President Donald Trump called 12 Senate Democrats on Tuesday, courting their votes on his tax bill that will mostly benefit wealthy people. To the surprise of the Democrats, Trump tried selling the bill by telling them that he would personally "get killed" financially by the legislation.
"My accountant called me and said 'you're going to get killed in this bill,'" the president said in a phone call from South Korea, according to NBC News. He also said that the proposed repeal of the estate tax was necessary in order to keep wealthy people happy, NBC News reported.
Tax reform is a life-or-death issue for the president, who has been desperate for a win. Trump's immigration ban stalled in the courts and his health care reform already died with a whimper. As some Republican senators have already voiced their displeasure with the new tax bill, Trump decided he needed to reach across the aisle to ensure he has the votes. Many of the Democrats on the call were from states Trump won in 2016, NBC News reported.
Taking a page from the "Art of the Deal," Trump made claims on the call that were somewhat dubious.
Sen. Sherrod Brown said after the phone call that the president told the Democrats "this bill is terrible for rich people, and we [Democrats] don't really agree."
Trump's adviser on legislative affairs, Marc Short, told NBC News after the call that Trump was referring to the elimination of individual deductions in the tax bill. That provision in the bill has not been popular even with Republican congressmen from blue states such as New York. And while that provision could hurt Trump financially, the bill does not eliminate deductions for businesses, so the president's real estate empire would not be harmed in any way.
Of course, the elimination of the estate tax would be a win for Trump's children, who stand to inherent millions when their father passes.
Trump's selling point on that provision was laughable at best. He told the Democrats on the phone that he personally wanted a repeal of the estate tax in the bill because "they had to give something to rich people," NBC News reported.
“I think that we’ve been advocating for the elimination of the death tax for a while," Short told NBC News.
A repeal of the estate tax would give the wealthy a $300 billion dollar tax break.
According to NBC News, the phone call dissolved into arguments at some point. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., expressed his frustrations about the process in drafting the bill and got into a "heated back and forth" with Short.
“Give us your input now,” Short apparently told Tester
How the legislation will affect Trump financially is impossible to gauge, considering the president has not released his tax returns. Trump has claimed to be a billionaire, but America found out Tuesday that those claims could easily be feigned. Trump's friend and commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, has been lying for years about his net worth, telling Forbes he was a billionaire even though he had less than half that.
The bill introduced in the House will apparently be different than the one proposed in the Senate, as Republicans haphazardly try to pass tax reform before the new year.