On Wednesday morning, President Trump asserted that in the wake of two hurricanes that killed at least 80 people, caused many billions of dollars of damage, and displaced tens of thousands, tax cuts are “needed more than ever before. Go Congress, go!”
With Irma and Harvey devastation, Tax Cuts and Tax Reform is needed more than ever before. Go Congress, go!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2017
Shortly after Trump posted his tweet, news broke that five people were reported dead at a Florida nursing home that was damaged by Hurricane Irma.
Trump made the same case during a cabinet meeting at Camp David on Saturday held just as Irma was bearing down on Florida.
— Brad Bainum (@bradbainum) September 10, 2017
Earlier Wednesday, Trump tweeted that “[t]he approval process for the biggest Tax Cut & Tax Reform package in the history of our country will soon begin. Move fast Congress!”
There’s just one problem — there is no package as of yet. Trump is hoping that Congress will write a tax cut bill, but no bill has been produced. And Trump hasn’t gotten more specific than saying he wants to provide corporations and individuals with a massive tax cut. Months ago, his administration releasing a single sheet of talking points.
If translated into legislative language, Trump’s tax vision would provide the 400 highest-income taxpayers in the country with an average tax cut of $15 million per year. The total tax cut for this group alone is $6 billion. For the same cost, the government could provide “600,000 low-income families with housing vouchers that would help them afford decent, stable housing,” according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
Trump is also planning a huge tax cut for individuals who use “pass-through” corporations, which includes the Trump family. According to the CBPP, “these filers would get a tax break of about $9 million each on this income.”
In order to pass a tax cut without Democratic support in the Senate, Trump’s tax plan needs to be “revenue neutral.” As a result, these tax cuts have a cost.
While the president has praised the job government agencies like the Coast Guard have done while responding to the storms, his budget proposal would slash their funding. As ThinkProgress has previously detailed, Trump’s budget includes a $876 million cut in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief account, a $200 million cut to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration programs that help coastal states brace for future storms, a $2.6 billion cut to the Environmental Protection Agency, and a $1.3 billion cut to the Coast Guard, among others.
Repairing damaged infrastructure and helping displaced families resettle takes resources. One thing that certainly won’t help them is a tax cut for corporations. Furthermore, as the Washington Post notes, there is no sound economic rationale for cutting taxes ahead of the massive spending that recoveries from major storms like Harvey and Irma involve.
On August 30 — while Houston was still underwater in the immediate wake of Hurricane Harvey — Trump delivered a speech calling for tax cuts.
not a good look pic.twitter.com/Fl2ISWoDid
— Jesse Lehrich (@JesseLehrich) August 30, 2017
“Lower taxes on American business mean higher wages for American workers,” Trump told a supportive audience in Missouri, while hundreds of miles away in Southeast Texas, families wondered where they would be sleeping that night.