December 23, 2019
By Tess Bonn
Conservative commentator Johnny Burtka ripped President Trump’s 2017 tax law in light of a new report that found that some of the most profitable companies in the U.S. didn’t pay any taxes last year as a result of the legislation.
“It was a big mistake for Trump,” Burtka, executive director for The American Conservative magazine, told Hill.TV during an interview that aired on Monday.
Burtka went on to accuse Trump of capitulating to “the Paul Ryan agenda.”
“He had the infrastructure opportunity — so many other issues to lean into what really got him elected in the first place and he capitulated to the Paul Ryan agenda,” he said.
In December 2017, then-Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) led the Republican-controlled House in passing the final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that had previously cleared the Senate.
Upon signing the bill into law, Trump hailed it as a major boon for the economy, adding that “corporations are literally going wild over this.” It was subsequently hailed as Trump’s first major legislative accomplishment since winning the White House and marked the largest overhaul of the U.S. federal tax code in nearly three decades.
But the tax overhaul has come under renewed scrutiny following a report released last week by the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
According to the report, 91 companies on the Fortune 500 list paid no federal taxes in 2018. The report, which analyzed the first year since the tax overhaul went into effect, covered hundreds of companies across a wide range of industries. These companies included Amazon, Chevron and IBM.
The report also found that nearly 400 companies paid an average federal tax rate of about 11 percent on their profits last year. This is roughly half the official rate established under President Trump’s 2017 tax law, which lowered the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.
Amid criticism that the tax law tilted in favor of corporations, Republicans have maintained that corporate tax rates helped generate economic growth and boost business investment in the economy.
But Burtka broke with fellow conservatives, maintaining that that the tax overhaul only really ever made sense in theory. He noted that instead of using the tax cuts to invest in new research and infrastructure, many companies have used it to buy back stocks.
“There needs to be a fundamental reevaluation of priorities and the economy needs to serve the American nation and the American people,” he said.