Controversy over Tennessee Senator Bob Corker's reversal on the GOP tax bill continued to grow after it was revealed a last-minute provision could personally enrich the senator by millions.
Buried in the newly-released 500-page tax plan is a provision that sets the real estate investment trust tax rate to just 20 percent. Most high-income individuals are taxed at a rate of 37 percent. Corker makes between $1.2 and 7 million dollars per year through commercial real estate, which economist Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Policy and Research says means Corker stands to save over $1.1 million per year thanks to this new provision.
— Dean Baker (@DeanBaker13) December 17, 2017
The revelation of the new provision, which was not included in the original versions of the House or Senate bills, is raising questions and controversy.
Corker made headlines earlier this month when he broke with his party and announced he would oppose the Republican tax bill.
“At the end of the day, I am not able to cast aside my fiscal concerns and vote for legislation that I believe, based on the information I currently have, could deepen the debt burden on future generations,” he said at the time.
Corker reversed course late last week, leading to speculation that his vote was bought with what critics are calling the “Corker Kickback.”
Sen Corker voted no on the Senate tax bill because it explodes the deficit. REVISED TAX BILL ALSO EXPLODES THE DEFICIT. But Sen Corker is now a yes vote. Is it because of the #Corkerkickback? Only other explanation is
there really isn't any other good explanation is there? https://t.co/eQH9rSnjsY
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) December 18, 2017
That speculation kicked into overdrive Sunday when majority whip Senator John Cornyn said the provision was added because the party was struggling to “cobble together the votes we needed to get this bill passed.”
#CorkerKickback is now trending on Twitter as pressure mounts for him to pull his support for the legislation.
Can someone let @SenBobCorker know it's wrong to vote YES on a #TaxScamBill that specifically benefits him? #DoBetterBob #CorkerKickback Feel free to call him: 855-997-4393 or give this a swift RT. pic.twitter.com/ZGu9cgina8
— MoveOn.org (@MoveOn) December 18, 2017
Meanwhile, Senator Corker is insisting he had no idea the provision was even in the bill, because he has not read the plan he says he supports. On Sunday night, he sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, requesting an explanation for how the provision ended up in the bill.
“I think because of many sensitivities, clarity on this issue is very important and hope that you will respond in an expeditious manner,” Corker said.