‘Unbeatable’ Trump suggests wiggle room on corporate tax rate


WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump, fresh off a Senate vote that puts him a step closer to passing a tax-cut bill by year-end, declared himself “unbeatable” for re-election — and unexpectedly suggested a critical element of the Congressional tax plan is open to debate.

Boarding Marine One at the White House, Trump said of the corporate tax rate, “it could be 22% when it comes out.

We are going to see what ultimately comes out”. Trump and the White House had previously suggested that a 20% corporate tax rate was a requirement for Trump to support the tax package.

The president spoke hours after the Senate narrowly approved the most sweeping rewrite of the US tax code in three decades, slashing the corporate tax rate and providing temporary tax-rate cuts for most Americans.

Senate and House negotiators will get to work within days to reconcile the measure with the one passed by the House in November. The bills have some significant differences, yet both versions agreed that the corporate tax rate will be set at 20%, versus the current 35%. Trump has even mused that he’d like to get the corporate rate even lower. “I hope it’s going to be 15%,” he said in September.

Every one percentage point change in the corporate tax rate is equivalent to about US$100 billion (RM410 billion) in revenue over 10 years. Setting the rate at 22% against 20% would free up roughly US$200 billion in revenue.

At New York’s Cipriani restaurant, the first of three stops in a day of fundraising, Trump linked what he cast as his electoral invincibility with this year’s gains in the stock market as well as the tax plan.

“One of the reasons is what’s happening with the markets, what’s happening with business, what’s happening with jobs,”

Trump told about 450 attendees at the Midtown restaurant.

In total, Trump’s appearances in his hometown were expected to raise about US$6 million. “Unless they have somebody that we don’t know about, right now we’re unbeatable,” Trump said.

Trump also said that the rise in many people’s 401k retirement balances with the stock market’s surge to record highs would make a good campaign line. He recounted an anecdote he said occurred backstage, before Saturday’s event: “One great gentleman came up and he said, ‘Sir, I want to thank you.’ I said, ‘What did I do for you?’ He said, ‘My 401(k) is up 40%.’ And I never thought it! You know, I tell you, he gave me one of the great campaign lines. It’s called ‘How is your 401(k) doing?’”

The president, without elaboration, said “new numbers just came out”, backing up his assessment of the electoral landscape. The comment appeared to relate to recent fundraising tallies for Republicans versus those for Democratic organisations.