A ProPublica investigation published Wednesday shows how Republican lawmakers and industry groups maneuvered to secure in the 2017 GOP tax law provisions that delivered billions in tax cuts benefiting the nation\u0026#039;s uber-wealthy, including top political donors.\r\n\r\n\u0022The flurry of midnight deals and last-minute insertions of language resulted in a vast redistribution of wealth into the pockets of a select set of families, siphoning away billions in tax revenue from the nation\u0026#039;s coffers,\u0022 wrote Justin Elliott and Robert Faturechi.\r\n\r\nFormally known as The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the legislation passed at \u0022warp speed\u0022 and was signed into law by President Donald Trump at the end of 2017, slashing the corporate tax rate and the top individual rate. The law\u0026#039;s critics dubbed it the GOP Tax Scam—a characterization strengthened by subsequent analyses showing how the tax code revisions brought about a massive economic windfall for the rich and corporations.\r\n\r\nInterventions cited in the new reporting include those by Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a climate science-denying member of the so-called \u0022Republican Millionaires Caucus\u0022 who tried last year to block stimulus payments from going to economically devastated Americans.\r\n\r\nJohnson pushed for a provision to \u0022sweeten the tax break\u0022 for what are known as pass-through businesses, reported ProPublica, citing Treasury Department officials\u0026#039; emails and officials\u0026#039; calendars. In such entities, income is \u0022passed through\u0022 to the business\u0026#039;s owners and taxed under the individual income tax. They make up the majority of businesses in the U.S.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe GOP was poised to let pass-through businesses deduct up to 17.4% of their profits, but Johnson, who\u0026#039;d threatened to vote no, pushed the deduction up to 20%—an increase that \u0022can translate into tens of millions of dollars in extra deductions in one year alone for an ultrawealthy family,\u0022 according to the reporting.\r\n\r\n\u0022Johnson\u0026#039;s last-minute maneuver\u0022 to get the provision into the bill, ProPublica reported, \u0022benefited two families more than almost any others in the country—both worth billions and both among the senator\u0026#039;s biggest donors.\u0022 The reporting points to right-wing billionaires Dick and Liz Uihlein, owners of large packaging company Uline, and another right-wing billionaire, roofing supply giant Diane Hendricks, who together donated \u0022$20 million to groups backing Johnson\u0026#039;s 2016 reelection campaign.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022The expanded tax break Johnson muscled through netted them $215 million in deductions in 2018 alone, drastically reducing the income they owed taxes on,\u0022 the investigation found. \u0022At that rate, the cut could deliver more than half a billion in tax savings for Hendricks and the Uihleins over its eight-year life.\u0022\r\n\r\nOther megarich households reaped the benefits as well. From ProPublica:\r\n\r\n\r\nIn the first year after Trump signed the legislation, just 82 ultrawealthy households collectively walked away with more than $1 billion in total savings, an analysis of confidential tax records shows. Republican and Democratic tycoons alike saw their tax bills chopped by tens of millions, among them: media magnate and former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg; the Bechtel family, owners of the engineering firm that bears their name; and the heirs of the late Houston pipeline billionaire Dan Duncan.\r\n\r\n\r\nThe investigation delved into how engineering and construction behemoth Bechtel secured in the final version of the bill a phrase to ensure that engineering was not an industry excluded from the pass-through deduction. In the lead-up to the bill\u0026#039;s passage, ProPublica found, the company \u0022executed a full-court press in Washington, meeting with Trump administration officials and spending more than $1 million lobbying on tax issues.\u0022\r\n\r\nIt was good return on investment. \u0022Bechtel Corporation produced around $2.3 billion of profit in 2018 alone—the vast majority of which appears to be eligible for the 20% deduction.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has previously noted how \u0022lobbying, conducted outside recognized procedures and largely without oversight, influenced how Treasury crafted the pass-through regulations before it issued them in proposed form\u0022 and discussed how the 2017 tax law\u0026#039;s \u002220% deduction for pass-through businesses is overwhelmingly tilted to the highest-income filers\u0022 and how that the deduction, along with slashing of the corporate tax rate, \u0022contribute to all three of the measure\u0026#039;s major flaws: they worsen inequality by disproportionately benefiting the well-off; they lose significant revenue at a time when demographic and other pressures require federal revenue to rise; and they will likely encourage significant tax avoidance by creating major incentives for wealthy individuals to recharacterize their income in search of lower taxes.\u0022\r\n\r\nWith such impacts in mind, Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) last month proposed legislation to undo the pass-through provision, which he called exemplary of \u0022Republicans\u0026#039; commitment to giveaways to the top 1%.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022Half the benefit of the pass-through deduction goes to millionaires, and because the benefit is so skewed toward the top, many Main Street small business owners are excluded. The mega-millionaires get to write-off 20% of their income while middle-class accountants are cut out,\u0022 the Oregon Democrat said.\r\n\r\nWyden touted his proposal as an effort \u0022to make the policy more fair and less complex for middle-class business owners, while also raising billions for priorities like child care, education, and healthcare.\u0022\r\n\r\nRead the full investigation, part of ProPublica\u0026#039;s ongoing reporting project \u0022The Secret IRS Files,\u0022 here.