Sen. Bob Corker is pretending to demand answers on how a new provision ended up in the tax bill that would save him over a million dollars. The real question is why he flipped to a yes vote immediately afterward.
The new version of the GOP tax scam to come out of conference contains many of the worst bits of both the House and Senate bills. It adds $1.5 trillion to the deficit, strips millions of health insurance, and raises taxes on working families to give special breaks to billionaires and corporations.
But it also contains a new provision that was not in either of the original bills: a special loophole in the new “pass-through” rate that would save real estate investors millions of dollars.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker has sent a letter to Finance chairman Orrin Hatch demanding to know what this provision is doing in the bill.
“I would ask that you provide an explanation of the evolution of this provision and how it made it into the final conference report," he wrote. "I think that because of many sensitivities, clarity on this issue is very important.”
But Corker’s feigned outrage over this provision is a laughably transparent ploy to take scrutiny off of his own role in the controversy.
Corker, as a multimillionaire real estate investor, could save $1.1 million on his personal tax return from this provision, according to economist Dean Baker and reporting by David Sirota in the International Business Times. And by sheer coincidence, he flipped his vote to yes at exactly the moment it was added to the bill.
Corker denies that he even read the bill or saw this provision when he changed his vote, or that the provision is even new. But experts who have read the bill are very clear that it was added at the last minute.
There is no other logical explanation for why Corker would change his vote. He opposed the original Senate bill due to its impact on the deficit, but the new bill is just as expensive.
Even more incriminating, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told ABC that the change was added “to cobble together the votes we needed to get this bill passed.” Corker was the only Republican against the bill. It is hard to interpret this statement as anything other than that his fellow Republicans bought off his vote.
Corker demanding answers on how this provision ended up in the tax bill is like a three-year-old demanding answers on why his hand is in a cookie jar. He is the one who owes the public an explanation — and he should tell us why he is breaking his own promises and principles to give himself an extra cool million.