In grand spirits with the Republican tax plan headed toward his desk, President Trump declared at the outset of a Cabinet meeting Wednesday that it would be “one of celebration.”
It certainly lived up to the billing.
Over the course of the first 20 minutes or so, which the media was allowed to witness, Trump crowed about “a historic victory for the American people.” His housing secretary, Ben Carson, offered a prayer in which he praised the president’s courage. And Vice President Pence turned up the dial even further, saying his boss deserved a hearty “congratulations and thank you.”
“I want to thank you, Mr. President,” Pence said. “I want to thank you for speaking on behalf of and fighting every day for the forgotten men and women of America.”
The meeting, held around a conference table in the Cabinet room of the White House, took place shortly before the House voted to send the tax bill to the president.
It came a couple of hours before Trump was scheduled to appear with Republican lawmakers on the South Lawn of the White House for what a Trump aide called a “bill passage event.” (The actual signing will come at a later date.)
Trump noted that no Democrats would be joining him at the afternoon event because none of them had supported the measure.
“Unfortunately, the Democrats don’t like to see tax cutting, they like to see tax increases,” the president asserted.
He took credit for branding the legislation a “tax cut,” suggesting that multiple other efforts over the years had failed because it was described using the opaque language of “tax reform.”
And, while Republicans have repeatedly said that the tax bill is aimed at helping the middle class, Trump said the cut in the corporate tax rate — from 35 percent to 21 percent — is “probably the biggest factor in our plan.”
During his remarks, Trump also touched on several topics, including his disdain for several current immigration practices, including a “visa lottery.”
“They’re not putting their best people in the lottery,” he said of some unspecified countries. “It’s common sense . . . They put their worst people into the lottery.”
As he wrapped up, Trump relayed that his Cabinet would next be hearing a prayer by Carson, and he said that members of the media would be allowed to stay.
“You need the prayer more than I do, I think,” Trump said, adding: “A good solid prayer, and maybe they’ll be honest.”
As Trump and his Cabinet bowed their heads, Carson thanked God for “a president and Cabinet members who are courageous” and willing to “face the winds of controversy … to guide a better future for those who come behind us.”
“We're thankful for the unity in Congress that has presented an opportunity for our economy to expand so that we can fight the corrosive debt that has been destroying our future,” Carson continued. “And we hope that that unity will spread even beyond party lines so that people recognize that we have a nation that is worth saving, and recognize that nations divided against themselves cannot stand.”
In remarks that followed, Pence also thanked the “outstanding team” from the Trump administration that helped usher the tax bill to completion, including Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter.
“I’m deeply humbled, as your vice president, to be able to be here,” Pence said. “Because of your leadership, Mr. President, and because of the strong support of the leadership in the Congress of the United States, you're delivering on that middle-class miracle.”