Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) delivers remarks on the South Lawn of the White House on December 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

'Like a Kleptocracy': Investigation Details How GOP Lawmakers Cashed In on Trump Tax Cuts

"It's bad enough that President Trump's and congressional Republicans' GOP tax scam betrayed workers—it's even worse that they're lining their own pockets off it."

Jake Johnson

An investigation into the effects of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act found that while the law has not delivered the promised boost in wages or business investment, it has fattened the pockets of the Republican lawmakers who ushered the measure through Congress despite widespread public opposition.

The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) and Vox published a joint article Friday detailing how the tax law—dubbed the "GOP tax scam" by opponents—"likely saved members of Congress hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes collectively, while the corporate tax cut hiked the value of their holdings."

"The 10 richest Republicans in Congress in 2017 who voted for the tax bill held more than $731 million in assets, almost two-thirds of which were in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other instruments."
—Peter Cary, Center for Public Integrity

The $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, signed into law by President Donald Trump in December of 2017, slashed the top individual tax rate from 39.6% to 37% and the corporate rate from 35% to 21%.

Peter Cary, reporter for CPI and the lead author of the investigation, noted it is impossible to determine precisely how much money Republican lawmakers saved as a result of the tax law because members of Congress are not required to disclose their tax returns. But the windfall was likely substantial, Cary wrote, given the massive boost in stock prices the law sparked.

"Cutting tax rates for companies like Apple and hundreds of other stocks they own was one of many ways Republican lawmakers enriched themselves after they passed the tax law," Cary wrote. "Democrats also stood to gain from the tax bill, though not one voted for it; all but 12 Republicans voted for the tax bill."

"The 10 richest Republicans in Congress in 2017 who voted for the tax bill held more than $731 million in assets, almost two-thirds of which were in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other instruments," Cary added, citing Roll Call's analysis of Congress' wealth.

Jeff Hauser, director of the Revolving Door Project at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, told CPI and Vox that lawmakers profiting off legislation they crafted "feels to me like a kleptocracy."

According to the CPI/Vox analysis, "all but one of the 47 Republicans who sat on the three key committees overseeing the drafting of the tax bill own stocks and stock mutual funds."

The investigation cited a provision in the tax law that rewarded real estate companies and investors as a particularly egregious example of Republican self-dealing.

"One Republican senator who benefited from the last-minute provision was Tennessee's [Republican Sen.] Bob Corker, who at the time owned or was a partner in 18 real estate businesses, LLCs, and partnerships, records show," Cary wrote. "His reported income from them was between $2.1 million and $11.1 million in 2017."

Critics named the provision the "Corker Kickback" after the Tennessee senator, who retired from Congress in 2018.

"It's bad enough that President Trump's and congressional Republicans' GOP tax scam betrayed workers—it's even worse that they're lining their own pockets off it," Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, tweeted Monday.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Bombshell': Israeli Spyware Used to Hack iPhones of US State Department Officials

Calling the Israel-based spyware maker NSO Group an "in-plain-sight national security threat," one expert warned that "a multi-agency investigation is immediately needed."

Jessica Corbett ·


US Progressive Caucus Hails Honduran Election as Chance for 'New Chapter' in Relations

"We encourage the Biden administration to use this opportunity to make a clean break with previous presidential administrations, which worked to ensure that the 2009 coup d'état succeeded."

Brett Wilkins ·


'The Facts of This Case Are So Egregious': Parents of Michigan School Shooter Charged in Killings

"There were a lot of things that could have been so simple to prevent," the Oakland County prosecutor said of the mother and father now being sought by law enforcement.

Kenny Stancil ·


Health Minister Says 'Highly Transmissible' Omicron Hitting Young Children Hard in South Africa

In South Africa's worst-affected province, children under the age of five now make up the second-largest group being admitted to hospitals.

Julia Conley ·


Groups Tell UN Food Agency to Ditch 'Toxic Alliance' With Pesticide Association

"This partnership with CropLife is in direct conflict with FAO's mandate as a U.N. institution to fulfill human rights to health, adequate food, clean water and environment, and safe working conditions."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo