Tennessee Senator Bob Corker was the only Republican who voted against the first iteration of the Republican Tax-Cut Blowjob For the Rich, because it would add a trillion dollars to the national debt (even including the most optimistic estimates of economic growth). Friday, Corker announced out of nowhere that he would vote for the bill after all, giving Rs at least the 50 votes needed to pass it even though John McCain is back in Arizona for cancer treatment. Once the final text of the bill was released, some meddling reporters found a happy little provision that hadn’t been in the House or Senate versions of the bill: A tax write-off for “pass-through” income to owners of real-estate LLCs that, as it happens, will help Bob Corker, already worth an estimated $69 million, to make an assload of money more. Oh, and Donald Trump will be able to deduct a lot more of his real-estate income, too! Corker insists he has no idea how that provision got into the final bill, but he hasn’t exactly called for it to be removed, either.
In a series of brief interviews with the International Business Times, Corker’s opinion of the measure morphed as rapidly as an evil alien critter in a bad sci-fi movie. First, he had no knowledge of what it even did, and said he’d “need an accountant” to understand it. But he had “no idea whatsoever” whether it would help him financially.
Then Corker called the IBT reporters back and asked them to tell him more about this thing. Boy, he really didn’t like it, the way they described it, at least: “If I understand what [the provision] does, it sounds totally unnecessary and borderline ridiculous,” he told them. But wait, maybe it’s not so bad after all, he said in yet another call:
“I don’t really know what the provision does to be honest. I would need an accountant to explain it,” Corker said. “I had no knowledge of this and would have no knowledge of it except for you guys are calling me about it. I have no idea whatsoever whether it impacts me or doesn’t impact me.”
IBT reports Corker made about $7 million last year from the real-estate holdings that would be subject to the deduction, as it turns out. He must have talked to that accountant before that final call to the paper.
Also, in what must surely pain Donald Trump, who can’t stop lying about how the tax cuts are bad for him, the special deduction would also apply to the $41 million to $68 million a year that Trump brings in through such investments. We bet he’ll threaten a veto unless that thing’s removed.
Corker is simply astonished that he’s going to be much richer after changing his vote, and has written a very stern letter to Senate Finance Committee chair Orrin Hatch, demanding answers about how this mysterious deal-sweetener found its way into the bill:
Because this issue has raised concerns, I would ask that that you provide an explanation of the evolution of this provision and how it made it into the final conference report […]
I think that because of many sensitivities, clarity on this issue is very important and hope that you will respond in an expeditious manner[.]
Yes, folks, Bob Corker will make a bundle, and he wants to know who’s responsible for the Corker Kickback. Strangely, the letter doesn’t demand the provision be stripped out before a final vote on the bill this week. After all, it’s important legislation that must be passed right away for the good of the country, and there’s no point in stopping progress just to eliminate one little tax cut for some lucky ducky senators and a lucky ducky president.
Texas Senator John Cornyn gave away the game on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday. When George Stephanopoulos asked Cornyn to comment on Democratic senators’ calls for the bill to be stopped because of the giveaway to real estate barons, Cornyn initially said it wasn’t fair to talk about who might be getting rich off the bill:
Picking out one piece in a 1,000-page bill and saying, “well, this is going to benefit somebody” — I just think that takes the whole bill out of context.
But then Stephanopoulos had to get shirty and ask why, John Cornyn, WHY is this thing that wasn’t in either version of the bill suddenly added at the last minute, huh, WHY? And the answer was, obviously, those nasty Democrats, and also, umm, greasing a few palms:
Well, we were working very hard. It was a very intense process. As I said, the Democrats refused to participate. And what we’ve tried to do is cobble together the votes we needed to get this bill passed.
Oh, so this was a little handout to win Corker’s vote, then? Heavens, John Cornyn had already said too much, so it was time to consider how this wonderful bill will be great for everyone who’s already filthy rich:
Well, the particular provision you’re talking about, honestly, is just one piece of a 1,000-page bill which is going to grow the American economy.
And everybody has a share. Especially the guy who wasn’t going to vote for anything that would increase the deficit.