WASHINGTON -- As the GOP tax overhaul nears its final hurdle, President Donald Trump was eager to defend the bill Saturday, touting what he said would be its impact on the middle class as he left the White House for Camp David.
"This is going to be one of the great gifts to the middle-income people of this country that they've ever gotten for Christmas," Trump told reporters as Marine One whirred in the background.
When asked about the contention among critics of the bill that it would provide tax cuts mainly for the rich, the President pushed back, taking a dig at Democrats who he said have the "standard sound bite" ready "before they even know what the bill is all about -- they talk about for the wealthy."
"This really will mostly benefit the middle class and jobs," Trump said, an assertion he has made repeatedly as Congress has advanced the bill. "Companies, companies are coming in, they're pouring into the country, they've already started, and this will be great for jobs."
Republican lawmakers unveiled the final version of the bill Friday, putting them on track for a vote on it next week.
When asked by a reporter why the individual tax cuts would be only temporary --- they would expire after 2025 --- the President expressed optimism that a future administration would address the issue and perhaps even make the tax cuts more generous depending on whether efforts to boost the economy are successful.
"The economy now has hit 3%," Trump said. "Nobody thought it would be anywhere close. I think we can go to 4, 5, and maybe even 6%, ultimately."
Critics of the tax overhaul say it is heavily weighted to ease the tax burden of businesses rather than the middle class.
The legislation would drop the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, repeal the corporate alternative minimum tax, nearly double the standard deduction for individuals, and restructure the way pass-through businesses are taxed. It would also keep seven personal income tax brackets, allow individuals to deduct up to $10,000 in state and local taxes, and lower tax rates for most brackets, including dropping the top rate to 37% from 39.6%.
The President, who the White House said is meeting with Vice President Mike Pence, budget Director Mick Mulvaney, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and other Cabinet officials at Camp David this weekend, ignored questions from reporters on North Korea and the health of Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who is battling brain cancer.
But before he walked away, Trump added, "We are back. We are really going to start to rock. We need this as our final push."
The President continued to tout the legislation later Saturday afternoon, posting a news clip of his remarks to reporters on Twitter.
"TAX CUTS will increase investment in the American economy and in U.S. workers, leading to higher growth, higher wages, and more JOBS!" Trump tweeted.