All five middle-class families would almost certainly pay less next year — savings each said would go toward home repairs and paying for college educations for their children. But their stories illustrate the uneven — and uncertain — benefits of the tax bill, especially when it comes to how much middle-class families will save and whether their wages will really increase.
Of the five families spotlighted at the event Wednesday, The Washington Post was able to reach four. Three said they needed to go back and study the bill to really understand what is in it, but they trusted that Trump would deliver on his promises to the middle class.
The bill has moved through Congress at lightning speed, impressing even veteran lobbyists. The House introduced its tax bill Nov. 2. Only six weeks have passed since then, but there have been massive changes to the bill — some even handwritten in the margins — that are not widely understood. GOP lawmakers are planning to present a final bill Friday.
Here are three families' stories.
The Glicks from Pennsylvania
The Glicks, like most middle-class families, would see their taxes go down under the GOP tax plan, at least in the years immediately following the bill.
The Glicks have two children and another on the way. Bryant manages a farm equipment store in the rolling hills of Lancaster County. Ashley works in health care. Together, they earn about $75,000 a year. When The Washington Post reached him Tuesday evening, Bryant said he expected to receive a tax cut of “several thousand dollars.”
At the White House event Wednesday, Trump told the Glicks that his team had run the numbers and they would get $600 back, less than expected, but an amount they were still happy about.
“We are greatly excited about this,” Bryant, 28, said Wednesday when the president urged him to step to the presidential podium and say a few words. “Many of your predecessors promised this reform was coming, but you did it.”
But the promise of the tax cut has limitations. The Senate bill lets tax cuts affecting individuals expire in 2025, and now there is discussion of having the rates go back up after 2024. Republican lawmakers are banking on a future Congress extending the rates. Otherwise, a lot of Americans would end up paying higher taxes.
Trump also said Wednesday that a “typical” family of four would save $2,000, but in reality, there's a lot of variation in how big the cut would be. Overall, most Americans would pay less in taxes next year, but only 44 percent of families are likely to save more than $500, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress' official analysts.
“In Pennsylvania, most of us will see a reduction in our taxes. We're not California,” said Bryant, who voted for Trump and knocked on doors for him during the campaign. “Is it going to help every single person? No. But I think it's going to help most.”
The Benjamins from Virginia
Leon and Maria Benjamin are pastors at New Life Harvest Church in Richmond, a church they started in 2002. The Benjamins earn most of their money from their church and a day-care center affiliated with it. They say they set up an S-Corporation — what's known in the business world as a “pass-through entity” — so their income from the church and day-care is “passed through” to their individual tax rate.
Under the Trump plan, pass-through businesses get a substantial reduction in taxes. The Senate proposal called for a 23 percent deduction. The final bill is expected to be about that amount, which helps explain why the Benjamin family saved the most out of the five families at Trump's event.
Trump told Leon that his family would save $3,000 in taxes if the GOP plan passes. “God bless you,” Leon said several times to the president, leading Trump to comment, “He can be my minister anytime.”
The Benjamins jumped on the “Trump train” in 2015 and ended up supporting him as delegates to the Republican National Convention. They are African American and worked hard on outreach to minorities for the Trump campaign. Every Tuesday, their church holds a prayer meeting for Trump and the nation.
The White House vows that business owners like the Benjamins will use their tax savings to turn around and drive a broader economic expansion — with companies going on hiring sprees and doling out raises.
When asked whether he would consider giving the day-care workers a raise after the tax plan goes through, Leon wasn't ready to commit.
“I'm looking to see how everything goes,” Leon said, a wait-and-see sentiment that many business owners have expressed.
Trump continues to say most workers will receive thousands of dollars in higher pay on top of their tax reductions. “Our plan also cuts taxes on businesses, which is expected to raise income by an average of more than $4,000,” Trump told the families Wednesday. “So your income goes up.”
Most economists say that figure is an exaggeration. While some workers may end up with higher pay, it's unlikely to be that much, and it's unlikely to be evenly distributed across all employees. Many large corporations say they plan to use their extra money to increase payments to shareholders.
The Giampolos from Iowa
On Sunday, Anthony and Aubyn Giampolo, residents of Polk County, Iowa, got a call from a friend of a friend who works in the White House asking whether they wanted to come to the tax event. They hurriedly said yes and spent a few days having their two younger kids practice saying, “Thank you, Mr. President.”
He's a police officer and she's a 911 emergency dispatcher, and Anthony says they bring in more than $100,000 a year because they work a lot of overtime. The extra hours help them support their eldest daughter, as she's a sophomore at Iowa State and they don't want her to have any student debt. On top of that, Anthony and Aubyn are studying for master's degrees to advance their careers.
“I've been discouraged the last few years,” Anthony said. He's excited about the tax bill and the president's support for the police, but he says he's pro-America first and foremost. “I was honored to go to the White House. I would have gone whoever was the president.”
On Wednesday, Trump told the couple, who pay about $19,000 in taxes, that they would be able to “file on a single page and save $2,700.”
“I was hopeful we would be able to save more money under this plan, but without reading it myself and dissecting it myself. . . . I'd feel better doing that,” Anthony said.