President Trump boasted about his tax knowledge during an impromptu interview with The New York Times in which he claimed to know taxes “better than the greatest CPA.”
The interview, conducted Thursday at his Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida with Times reporter Michael Schmidt, occurred without any his aides present. Much of the interview centered on the Russia probe, and Trump insisted to Schmidt 16 times there was no evidence of collusion. He also discussed North Korea and the reasons behind Republicans’ loss of a Senate seat in Alabama to incoming Democratic Senator Doug Jones, along with other topics, including the tax cuts law passed by Congress this month.
Trump attributed the passage of the legislation, the biggest overhaul to the tax code since 1986, to his “unbelievably great relationships with 97 percent of the Republican congressmen and senators. I love them and they love me.”
He also said, according to excerpts of the interview, he knows more about “the big bills” for taxes and health care legislation “than any president that’s ever been in office.” If he didn’t, he added, he “couldn’t have persuaded a hundred congressmen to go along with the bill,” even though the health care bill “was ultimately, shockingly rejected.”
As for the tax legislation, Trump predicted it would be “far bigger than anyone imagines.”
He pointed to one of the provisions, expanding the bonus depreciation tax break to allow businesses to immediately expense 100 percent of the cost of new equipment.
“Expensing will be perhaps the greatest of all provisions,” said Trump. He added, “You can do lots of different things, and you can write it off and expense it in one year. That will be one of the great stimuli in history. You watch.”
He also anticipates more money from multinationals repatriating the foreign profits they have held abroad.
“Watch the money coming back into the country,” said Trump. “It’ll be more money than people anticipate.”
Trump then boasted to Schmidt about his grasp of the policy details of both the tax law and the failed health care repeal and replace legislation, comparing himself to CPAs. “But Michael, I know the details of taxes better than anybody,” he said. “Better than the greatest CPA. I know the details of health care better than most, better than most. And if I didn’t, I couldn’t have talked all these people into doing ultimately only to be rejected.”
The tax reform bill includes a provision repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate requiring taxpayers to buy health coverage, and in October Trump signed an executive order allowing consumers to buy health insurance from associations that can operate across state lines.
“Now here’s the good news,” Trump told the Times. “We’ve created associations. Millions of people are joining associations. Millions that were formerly in Obamacare or didn’t have insurance or didn’t have health care, millions of people. That’s gonna be a big bill, you watch. It could be as high as 50 percent of the people. You watch. So that’s a big thing. And the individual mandate. So now you have associations, and people don’t even talk about the associations. That could be half the people are going to be joining up.”
He predicted the changes would force Democrats to work with his administration to come up with a new health care bill. “I believe that because of the individual mandate and the associations, the Democrats will and certainly should come to me and see if they can do a really great health care plan for the remaining people,” he said.
Trump believes the repeal of the individual mandate will eventually lead to the collapse of Obamacare, paving the way for a bipartisan deal. “See, it was hard for them to do it as long as the individual mandate existed,” he said. “But now that the individual mandate is officially killed, people have no idea how big a deal that was. It’s the most unpopular part of Obamacare. But now, Obamacare is essentially … you know, you saw this … it’s basically dead over a period of time.”