Senior White House aides say tax plan is meant to benefit the middle class

Senior aides and political allies of President Trump fanned out Sunday on news talk shows to defend Republicans’ tax-overhaul plan against critics and analyses, forcefully denying that the richest Americans would be its principal beneficiaries.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said the primary objective of the proposed tax framework that Trump and Republican congressional leaders outlined last week is to “lower taxes for middle-class taxpayers.”

Appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Ryan was asked whether tax cuts would apply to everyone in the middle class.

“Well, I don’t know every single person’s little, small problem or issue,” Ryan said, adding that factors such as whether a person is married or has children have an impact on tax status and liability.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin also denied that the plan’s provisions would disproportionately benefit the most affluent, whose top income tax rate would drop to 35% under the proposal, and perhaps 25% in some cases, from nearly 40%.

“Our objective is not to create tax cuts for the wealthy,” Mnuchin said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

His claim is contradicted by a number of nonpartisan studies, based on the scant details Republicans have released, concluding that the wealthy inevitably would benefit from lower rates and that some middle-class households would pay more.

The Treasury secretary also repeated the administration’s contention that sharply cutting the corporate tax from 35% to 20% would represent a boon for the overall economy.

“This is really a jobs act — this is about creating jobs,” he said. Many economists have questioned the link between such cuts and job creation.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said opponents’ assertions that the plan was meant to benefit wealthy families like Trump’s own were unfair.

“When you hear the president say he really doesn’t care what happens to the top 1%, that’s real for him,” Mulvaney said. “This is really about the middle class and the corporate tax rate for the president.”

The administration’s bid to move ahead with a tax plan has also served to highlight longstanding criticism of Trump for refusing to release his own taxes, defying a decades-old presidential norm.

Mnuchin, on ABC, was asked how the public could judge whether to accept Trump’s assertion that he would not personally benefit from his own proposals without the returns being released.

“That’s just not fair,” he replied.

Some in the president’s party are already saying they won’t accept a tax plan that adds to the deficit. One of those is Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who said last month he would not seek reelection next year.  

Interviewed on “Meet the Press,” Corker called the deficit the “greatest threat to the nation.”