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Congressman tries to claim Republicans want to close tax loopholes for the rich

Rep. James Comer voted for President Donald Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

By Josh Israel - June 15, 2021
Rep. James Comer (R-KY)

Rep. James Comer (R-KY) claimed on Monday that Republicans want to close loopholes that allow the rich to pay little in taxes. But he voted for the 2017 bill that massively cut taxes for billionaires and has opposed all efforts to raise them.

In a Fox News interview, Comer was asked about a recent ProPublica report, based on leaked Internal Revenue Service data, that showed the nation’s 25 richest people paid little in taxes — a true tax rate of only about 3.4%.

Comer expressed outrage, not at the fact that billionaires paid lower tax rates than working families, but at the fact that the information was made public at all.

“Everyone knows there are billionaires that take advantage of the tax code. When Donald Trump was running for president, he talked about that,” the Kentucky Republican responded. Trump’s boasted during a September 2016 debate that his own evasion of federal income taxes was proof that he was smart.

“Republicans want to close the loopholes and make sure that every American pays their fair share of taxes. The issue here is a massive leak from the IRS,” he added.

A Comer spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

But he and his GOP colleagues have done nothing to make sure that the richest people pay their fair share. Indeed, they actually gave them a massive tax cut just a few years ago.

In December 2017, Trump and congressional Republicans (without a single Democratic vote) enacted the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act — legislation to slash tax rates for corporations and the richest Americans while raising them for 10 million American families. It reduced the income tax rate for the top earners from 39.6% to 37%, saving the richest Americans millions.

Comer voted for the legislation. “I am proud to support this critical part of President Trump’s pro-growth agenda,” he wrote at the time, “that will fulfill this promise to the American people who have struggled under the weight of Washington bureaucrats for far too long.”

“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act fixed the individual tax system to make filing taxes simpler and help Americans keep more of their money,” he bragged two months later.

In September 2018, he voted for a bill that would have made those individual tax cuts — which are set to expire in 2025 — permanent.

Keeping a campaign promise, President Joe Biden has proposed closing some of the loopholes and reducing the Trump tax cuts for those making $400,000 or more annually, as part of his American Families Plan. Those funds would be used to invest in affordable child and healthcare, free community college, and paid leave.

Every congressional Republican has opposed Biden’s plan, drawing a “red line” against any proposal to raise taxes on the very rich.

Comer, who signed an ironclad pledge to oppose all net tax increases, told CNBC in March that Biden’s proposals were really just about “redistribution of wealth.”

Last week, Texas Rep. Kevin Brady — the author of the 2017 tax law and the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee — told Fox News Radio that asking the rich to pay their fair share is a bad idea because it would just “hurt working people.” He argued that if wealthy people pay more in taxes, they may invest less in the stock market, hurting overall growth.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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