“Just as I promised the American People from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history,” Trump told a joint session of Congress.
On paper, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act costs $1.5 trillion over 10 years, though it will cost about $2 trillion if lawmakers prevent the expiration of individual tax cuts scheduled for 2025. But even if they do that, it still won’t be the biggest cut in history.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which opposed the tax bill because it will widen federal budget deficits, has estimated that for the Trump tax cut to be the biggest ― in terms of its size relative to gross domestic product ― it would need to reduce revenue by $6.8 trillion. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act currently ranks as the eighth biggest by that measure, and fourth biggest according to how many dollars it costs the Treasury.
Trump could maybe claim that by saying “biggest tax cuts and reforms,” he’s not simply lying about the scale of the new tax law. Some of the bigger tax cuts on the list, including two signed into law by former President Barack Obama, simply cut taxes without making changes to the structure of the federal tax code as major as the ones in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to HuffPOst’s request for comment.
While Trump’s tax cut may not be the biggest in history, it’s probably the most divisive. Republicans rushed the bill through Congress without a single Democratic vote. Democratic lawmakers in the California State Legislature are trying to subvert the tax bill’s limit on deductions for state and local taxes, while the Democratic governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are threatening a long-shot lawsuit over the provision.
Trump also touted recent bonuses that several large companies have said they’re giving workers because of the tax bill.
“Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses ― many of them thousands of dollars per worker,” Trump said.
Trump was apparently citing a Republican tally of announcements by more than 200 companies employing approximately that many people, which is about 1.8 percent of the U.S. labor force.
Though the bonus announcements have garnered massive press attention, the payouts so far represent a tiny fraction of the tax savings companies expect from the tax reform. HuffPost’s parent company Verizon, for instance, said it would dole out more than $400 million worth of stock awards to its employees, and stands to save as much as $4 billion in taxes.
The White House previously estimated that corporate tax cuts would eventually boost workers’ earnings by at least $4,000 annually, a figure Trump cited during his speech. The higher pay would come about thanks to increased business investment that makes workers more productive, not bonuses, though most economists think the $4,000 figure is unrealistic.
Trump didn’t repeat past claims that the new tax law would benefit the middle class and not the rich. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has estimated the wealthiest 5 percent of taxpayers would see the largest percentage increase in after-tax income under the law.
The president capped the tax portion of his speech with a note of optimism, as though he’d fulfilled a campaign promise to make supporters’ wildest dreams come true.
“If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve anything,” he said.
This story has been updated to include more remarks from Trump’s speech.