“He promised he wouldn’t vote for a deficit increase… Then traded his leverage for cold hard cash.”
Though many initially shrugged it off as just the last domino to fall in terms of ending the myth that any Republican Party lawmaker actually ever gave a whiff about the deficit, increasing evidence on Sunday reveals that Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) dropped his opposition to the GOP tax proposal after the last-minute inclusion of a provision that would directly enrich him, President Trump, and other members of Congress who hold substantial financial interests in the real estate market.
As David Sirota and Josh Keefe first reported for the International Business Times on Friday night:
The new tax provision would specifically allow owners of large real estate holdings through LLCs to deduct a percentage of their “pass through” income from their taxes, according to experts. Although Trump, who became famous for his real estate holdings, has transitioned into branding in recent years, federal records show Trump has ownership stakes in myriad LLCs.
The new provision was not in the bill passed by the House or the Senate. Instead, it was inserted into the final bill during reconciliation negotiations between Republicans from both chambers. The provision, said experts, would offer a special tax cut to LLCs with few employees and large amounts of depreciable property assets, namely buildings: rent generating apartment and office buildings.
Additionally, Sirota and Keefe report, “Federal records reviewed by IBT show that Corker has millions of dollars of ownership stakes in real-estate related LLCs that could also benefit.”
But while Corker denied he knew anything about the provision or how it would benefit him personally, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the majority whip in the Senate, on Sunday said its inclusion was specifically part of an effort to “cobble together the votes” needed “to get this bill passed.”
Over at Vox, Emily Stewart reports that Cornyn does not have “a good answer on tax bill loophole that means millions for Corker and Trump.”
On Sunday afternoon, Sirota—who also filed this followup story after Cornyn’s comments earlier in the day—said it looked like the social media hashtag #corkerkickback was “starting to trend”—not good news for the Republicans. “[It] doesn’t matter if you love or hate the tax bill,” Sirota tweeted, “this is information that needs to be out there.”
If true, agreed many, the optics will not be good for Republicans as they head for a vote on the bill in the days ahead:
GOP thought this theft would go unnoticed.
— Andy Slavitt (@ASlavitt) December 17, 2017
#CorkerKickback exemplifies what Americans find disgusting about politicians.
By retiring @SenBobCorker freed himself from need to cater to Trump.
He promised he wouldn’t vote for a deficit increase.
Then traded his leverage for cold hard $$$.
Corruption is shameful.
— Ady Barkan (@AdyBarkan) December 17, 2017
— Topher Spiro (@TopherSpiro) December 17, 2017
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