President Donald Trump's chief economic adviser and former Goldman Sachs banker Gary Cohn dealt yet another blow to Republicans' claim that their tax plan will primarily benefit middle class Americans on Thursday, telling CNBC's John Harwood in an interview that the Americans who are "most excited" about the GOP's push for massive tax cuts are actually "big CEOs"—a reversal from his claim just weeks ago that the wealthy "are not getting a tax cut under our plan."
"The most excited group out there are big CEOs, about our tax plan. They all tell me how excited they are to get a tax plan that makes the United States competitive, makes it so they can grow their business domestically," Cohn declared, prompting many to wonder whether he was actually "supposed to say that."
This quote from Gary Cohn is just too perfect: "The most excited group out there are big CEOs, about our tax plan." pic.twitter.com/1a5u1EoJVQ— Jeremy Slevin (@jeremyslevin) November 9, 2017
Cohn went on to claim against all evidence that "trickle-down economics" is "good for the economy" and repeat the familiar line that the Trump administration and the GOP did not "set out to create a tax cut for the wealthy," implying that any tax cuts for the rich would be purely incidental.
However, "if someone's getting a tax cut, I'm not upset that they're getting a tax cut. I'm really not upset," Cohn added.
Cohn's comments to CNBC came just as Senate Republicans are preparing to release their own tax bill, which is expected to resemble the House version in offering massive tax cuts to the rich and massive corporations.
In acknowledging that the GOP's tax proposals would be a boon for CEOs, Cohn departed drastically from his previous insistence—as recently as September—that the "wealthy are not getting a tax cut" under the Trump-GOP plan.
But as Vox's Matt Yglesias notes, Cohn's latest remarks are far more accurate.
"He's right—this plan is great for big CEOs!" Yglesias writes, noting that the GOP bill:
- "Reduces the corporate income tax rate," which ultimately has the effect of boosting share prices and, as a result, CEO pay;
- Eliminates the estate tax, which "helps you if you manage to amass an $11 million fortune, which big CEOs tend to do but family farmers don't"; and
- "Lets companies take cash that's been stashed tax-free in foreign subsidiaries and use it for dividends or buybacks that also boost share prices."
While Cohn may be correct in saying that CEOs are excited about Republicans' aggressive tax cut push, he would be wrong to think that middle class Americans share this excitement, according to recent polls.
As Common Dreams reported last week, only 13 percent of Americans believe the GOP tax plan will benefit the middle class, while 60 percent believe the plan will "mainly favor" the rich.
Numerous expert analyses published in recent days appear to validate the public's view.
According to a New York Times analysis published Monday, 45 percent of middle class families would actually face a tax hike within a decade if the GOP plan becomes law. Meanwhile, benefits for the richest Americans would continue to grow over time.