White House Misleadingly Using Former Trump Adviser Gary Cohn to Sell Joe Biden Tax Hike

White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn listens during a meeting between President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the World Economic Forum, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, in Davos. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Joe Biden’s White House continues citing an old Gary Cohn interview out of context to suggest President Donald Trump’s former economic adviser is supporting Biden’s proposed $2.5 trillion spending deal.

“This Week: 200 Economists, Gary Cohn, Republican Kathy Maness, and the American People Agreed: The American Jobs Plan Is Both Sensible and Necessary” the subject line from a White House email sent out to reporters on Friday read.

Biden White House email

But Cohn has not endorsed President Biden’s plan.

The White House included in the email a link to a portion of a Yahoo Finance interview with Cohn in June 2020 while Trump was still President of the United States.

From the transcript:

ADAM SHAPIRO: There is talk that Joe Biden, if he were to win the election, would actually raise the corporate tax rate. You were part of the historic movement to cut corporate taxes. Biden is talking about potentially a 28 percent corporate tax rate. So how do you address all of that?

GARY COHN: So Adam, on the corporate tax rate, you know, I’m actually OK at 28 percent. The level we got to in our tax plan on the corporate side was actually a bit lower than I thought we needed to go. We had come down from 35%. Getting down in the low 20s was probably lower than what we needed to go. I always thought there was a compromise rate sort of in the mid 20s that made sense.

I’ll remind everyone, though, that the corporate tax rate is not where we collect a lot of dollars. So the difference between going from 35 percent to 21 percent was less than $100 billion a year. We don’t collect a lot of money in the corporate tax rate.

But I also will remind people that if you look at our tax bill, it was the Tax and Jobs Act. And one of the reasons that we cut the corporate tax rate in the United States was to create jobs and redomicile business in the United States and made the United States competitive from a tax standpoint. If we go to 28 percent, that’s probably the top end of the range that we can go to and be competitive with the rest of the world. It’s at the outer bounds of my limit of acceptability. I could live with 28 percent.

Cohn acknowledged during the the interview that the “big corporate groups” would likely be fine with a 28 percent tax rate, but noted the priority for the Trump administration was to boost jobs and make America more competitive.

Cohn continued:

So ultimately, the reason we lowered tax rates, corporate tax rates, was to bring jobs back to the United States. And if you look at that back at the beginning of the year, we had a record low unemployment rate. We were creating jobs. So I don’t want to derail that.

In October, Cohn was again asked in an interview with Yahoo Finance about the corporate tax rate.

Cohn again said he was still OK with the idea of a 28 percent tax rate but warned it would make the United States less competitive with other countries and he cautioned that raising the rates would sacrifice job creation in smaller businesses.

He added the (CARES) coronavirus stimulus package signed by Trump allowed companies to again expense travel and entertainment, which was a benefit for businesses.

He said:

So to get the CARES pack done, they said, OK, we’re going to allow companies to now expense travel and entertainment, which is probably a good thing because we want people out there spending money in restaurants. We want them spending money on airplanes. We want them spending money entertaining. But again, so you can’t just look at the tax rate. You have to look at the tax rate times what number.

“So the first thing I care about is jobs,” he said. “And really, when you talk about jobs, you’re talking about small businesses.”

Cohn has not responded to the Biden White House using his comments to support the president’s massive tax hikes to pay for his $2.5 trillion spending package.

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