The GOP tax bill is controversial for lots of reason, but most of all, it's come under fire for supposedly benefiting wealthy Americans more than anyone else. As it seems, though, some of the country's richest people would disagree with that statement. At a fundraiser hosted Saturday by Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman, some of Trump's richest friends requested that the GOP tax bill make even more exceptions in their favor, according to a report from the Washington Post.
Anonymous attendees at the fundraiser told the Post that one of Trump's friends, along with a donor, had asked about making changes that would give a break to some of New York's wealthier businessmen. Reportedly, Trump responded vaguely, saying he was aware of and understood their hangups. Reportedly, the president responded, "Well, we’ve got to see what happens. Maybe there are ways to try to be helpful."
One major concern expressed over the proposed bill, at least among the wealthy, are limitations on tax breaks that folks in the elite tax bracket can claim. According to the Post, those concerns specifically relate to state and local tax deductions, often referred to as the SALT deduction. Conservatives argue that SALT largely benefits those who live in wealthy liberal states where state and local taxes tend to be higher.
If they are allowed to deduct those taxes from their federal tax bill, they are paying less than individuals in states who have lower local tax rates. Because of this, if the SALT deduction was reduced or eliminated, high-income New York residents could end up paying more into the federal taxes than they currently do. Some say that this means that lower-tax states are "subsidizing" higher-tax states because they are making up for money not being submitted to the federal tax pool. The counterargument to this logic is that because state and local taxes are higher in liberal states, the state and local governments bring in more money and therefore are less likely to draw upon federal funding.
Incidentally, many expert economists have actually concluded that the tax bill is largely a boon for the country's highest earners. Attendees at Saturday's fundraiser, however, are not necessarily convinced, which is why they have reportedly been reaching out to Trump and his cabinet members to request amendments. While the attendees at this fundraiser were lamenting that they could potentially be required to pay more taxes, they were shelling out $100,000 a plate to attend the function. (One other notable attendee was Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a friend of Schwarzman.)
In the Senate, the most recent version of the tax bill was passed without ever having been formally released to the public. Many senators said they didn't even have time to read it in its entirety before it was put up for a vote. Photos of the the final version that were shared on social media showed that the bill had hand-written amendments scrawled into the margins, indicating a slapdash rush to simply move the legislation forward.
As it stands now, because of substantial alterations made in the Senate, the bill has been bounced back to the House, where the changes must be approved before it can be sent to the White House for its final signature. The bill has been heavily criticized because each iteration has been passed strictly along party lines. No draft has received Democratic support.
The tax bill also features more than just straight-forward economic reform. It's loaded with additional add-ons, including caveats that would open up protected wildlife areas in Alaska to oil drilling, a repeal of the individual healthcare mandate, and a would-be repeal of the multimillionaire inheritance tax. The future of the bill currently lays with the House, but if representatives make too many substantial changes to it, it could return to the Senate for yet another review.