Fla. lawmaker who helped craft new tax law stands to gain

Associated Press


As Republicans streamed out of Washington in late January for their annual retreat, dozens of them headed to Union Station near the U.S. Capitol to catch a train to the luxury Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. Rep. Vern Buchanan wasn’t among them. The Florida lawmaker made the short trip in his Embraer Phenom 300, an executive jet that costs around $9 million.

Already one of the wealthiest lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Buchanan could become even wealthier after he and other Republicans muscled a sweeping rewrite of the U.S. tax code through Congress late last year that includes breaks for the real-estate and automobile industries that generate most of his income.

The potential windfall for Buchanan – worth at least $80 million and perhaps much more – echoes on a smaller scale how favorable the new tax law is to President Donald Trump, whose fiery populism won him support from struggling American workers and families. While Trump and Republican allies have billed the tax law he signed as a victory for a stressed middle class, the $1.5 trillion package provides the most significant tax cuts for corporations and the most prosperous Americans.

Not a single Democrat in the House and Senate voted for the legislation, which they’ve depicted as a payout to the GOP’s largest donors. Seeking to convince voters otherwise, Republicans have trumpeted announcements from companies that credit the overhaul as the reason their workers are getting bonuses and wage increases.

But the biggest winners are those who are already doing well.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimated that for the richest 0.1 percent – those making more than $3.4 million – the tax cut should be worth 2.7 percent of their after-tax income. For middle-income earners, it’s 1.6 percent, according to the center. And only high-income people would get a meaningful tax cut after 2025, when nearly all the plan’s individual income tax provisions are due to expire.

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