Trump’s America (Continued)

December 28, 2017
By Joe Kloc

Three days before Christmas, US president Donald Trump held a signing ceremony for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which will provide middle-class households with an average tax break of $900 and will give the top one percent of earners an average savings of $90,000, an amount greater than the income of 70 percent of Americans. “We did a rush job,” said Trump, explaining that he wanted to sign the bill before Christmas so that he would not be criticized on the television news he reportedly watches for up to eight hours a day. Trump signed the bill into law with a large black marker; said that the press had given him “no credit” for signing more legislation than any other president in “the history of our country,” which he had not done; and added that he had some “beautiful pens” on his desk that he wanted to give to the boom-mic operators in his office, whose industry-wide average income in 2013 was about 0.3 percent of the additional annual tax savings the president is expected to receive. Trump, who has said the bill was “for the middle class” and would cost him “a fortune,” flew to his private club in Palm Beach; told a table of members that they “all just got a lot richer” from the tax bill, which allows corporate sales agents to take deductions for bar tabs; and traveled to West Palm Beach, where he played golf at one of his private courses and then visited a local fire station. “How’s your 401k,” Trump asked a group of firemen, who under the new tax law will no long be able to take deductions for the cost of cleaning their uniforms. Trump tweeted that companies had begun “showering their workers with bonuses”; a spokesperson for Wells Fargo, whose CEO made 527 times the average salary of a US bank teller in 2016, said the company would raise its minimum wage from $13.50 to $15 per hour; the CEO for AT&T, who received $16.1 million in stock awards and $5.7 million in non-equity incentives on top of his $1.8 million salary in 2016, said the company would give 200,000 employees a $1,000 bonus; an AT&T spokesperson confirmed that the company planned to lay off at least one thousand workers; and the former director of the Puerto Rican budget office said that the tax bill would raise the price for companies on the island manufacturing high-end goods, an industry that employs 75,000 workers and has an annual market value of about half the estimated cost of repairing the 200,000 homes damaged by Hurricane Maria. “MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!” tweeted Trump, who in the 1980s banned Christmas trees from the lobby of one of his Manhattan apartment buildings as part of an effort to drive out longstanding elderly tenants and replace their homes with a luxury tower. “Business is looking really good for next year.”

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