Donald Trump has claimed that the Republican tax bill will help the American middle class, despite widespread analysis to the contrary. The bill, which is currently in conference, includes provisions that slash the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. With many of the provisions that would benefit lower- and middle-income families expiring in 2025, most tax experts agree that the bill would effectively be a gift to the one percent and to shareholders.
But according to Steve Rosenthal of the Tax Policy Center, the tax bill would also be a huge giveaway for foreign shareholders specifically. According to Rosenthal’s estimates, foreign investors own about 35 percent of U.S. stock. In a blog post, Rosenthal wrote that this could translate to $2 trillion in savings for foreign investors over the next 10 years, as corporations use the extra gains from the tax cuts to spread the wealth to shareholders. “This tax bill gives a huge windfall to foreign investors, and that’s not putting America first in my judgment,” Rosenthal told me.
Trump ran on an “America First” platform during the campaign, scapegoating immigrants for Americans’ economic woes, and he has continued to push his isolationist rhetoric throughout his presidency. He has come out against trade deals, like NAFTA and the TPP, asserting that they benefit other countries more than the United States. “We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore,” Trump said at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit last month.
He again touted his “America First” rhetoric while speaking in Missouri last week, emphasizing the supposed benefits this tax bill will bring to American families. “A vote to cut taxes is a vote to put America first again. We want to do that. We want to put America first again. It’s time to take care of our workers, to protect our communities, and to rebuild our great country,” Trump said.
But the fact that an enormous chunk of the proposed tax cuts set to benefit foreign investors who are exempt from most U.S. taxes, while most middle-class Americans would see tax increases in the long term, says a lot about who Trump is actually putting first.