By the Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS — President Donald Trump gave a rousing defense of his 2017 tax cuts Monday while surrounded by political backers at a truck company chosen by the White House as the site of a special Tax Day roundtable.
“Today is Tax Day,” Trump said to boos from a supportive crowd at Nuss Truck & Equipment in Burnsville, a Minneapolis suburb.
He then touted the GOP tax cuts, which he called the “largest in history” — a claim some economists dispute.
“Over 80 percent of American families are now receiving benefits from the tax cut,” Trump added.
Outside the company gates, opposing groups of supporters and protesters confronted each other, shouting insults and pushing their signs in front of each other. Police officers, including from local departments and the sheriff’s office, surrounded the groups, which numbered several hundred people.
At the roundtable, Trump recited a number of GOP selling points for the tax cuts, which Democrats opposed for conferring most of the benefits on the wealthy and large corporations. Trump said a “typical family” earning $75,000 a year is saving more than $2,000 a year in federal taxes. He also touted the doubled child credit and said he eliminated the “unfair death tax.”
He also mocked the New York Times. Referring to an article in what he called the “fake New York Times,” Trump appeared to read from the newspaper. “Face it, you probably got a tax cut,” he said, saying it showed where the writer was “coming from.”
“Nothing good comes from the New York Times,” Trump added a few moments later to applause from the audience seated on folding chairs on the industrial shop floor.
Trump also talked up the U.S. economy, saying “blue-collar jobs” have grown at the fastest rate in 31 years.
He spoke about increasing steel production in Minnesota and replacing Obamacare if he is reelected. “We’re not only going to save your private plans,” he said “but we’re going to give you something much better as an alternative,” he said.
In previous remarks, Trump has said a GOP health plan will likely not be introduced until after the 2020 elections.
“All socialism is a method of going into the Poor House,” Trump continued. “We have the best economy we’ve ever had.”
“These things don’t happen by accident,” Trump added, warning they can be undone “if you elect the wrong people.”
“Everything that we’ve done can be undone and bad, bad things,” can follow, he said.
One of Trump’s 2020 Democratic challengers, Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, announced hours earlier that she was releasing her 2018 tax returns, a move that came after releasing 12 years of tax returns — every year since she has been a candidate for federal office — earlier this month.
Klobuchar also called on Trump to mark Tax Day by releasing his own tax returns. “I believe in transparency and accountability — that’s why I’ve released my tax returns and why I’m calling on Donald Trump to finally release his tax returns and quit hiding from the American people,” Klobuchar said.
Environmentalists also took aim at Trump’s promise to ramp up steel production in northern Minnesota.
“Donald Trump is selling out Minnesota and the Boundary Waters Wilderness to a foreign mining corporation — plain and simple,” said Tom Landwehr, executive director of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. “Economic analysis from two Harvard economists show mining near the Boundary Waters will destroy more jobs than it creates.”
Trump landed at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport at 12:45 p.m. Monday, before heading to Burnsville for what the White House said would be a roundtable discussion on tax cuts and the U.S. economy.
Trump did not immediately step out of Air Force One, according to reporters on the plane. Local dignitaries, including Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Republican U.S. Reps. Jim Hagedorn and Pete Stauber, walked up the stairs instead to greet the president shortly after 1 p.m.
Accompanying the president on the Tax Day jaunt were Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Minnesota U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, a Republican who represents a district north of the Twin Cities. Emmer also is the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of the House Republicans. White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and U.S. Treasurer Jovita Carranza also were on board Air Force One, according to the White House.
Along the highway to Burnsville, about 15 miles south of Minneapolis, reporters traveling with the president saw a few drivers in cars traveling the opposite direction extended a middle finger in greeting. Outside the front drive at Nuss Truck & Equipment a man gave two thumbs down while supporters nearby waved American flags and cheered.
A number of local groups mounted demonstrations around Trump’s visit, including a Muslim civil rights organization protesting Trump’s recent attacks on Minnesota U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat whose district adjoins the 2nd Congressional District where Trump’s roundtable took place. The 2nd District is represented by U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, a Democrat who defeated Republican incumbent Jason Lewis in November.