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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

Fox & Friends hosted Ivanka Trump to shill for the Republican Party’s tax bill without once asking her about any of the provisions that will directly benefit her. If the bill is passed, the Trump family, including Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, stands to benefit enormously from changes to business taxation and to the estate tax.

On the December 18 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, the hosts interviewed Ivanka Trump about her role in the GOP’s tax efforts, as well as some of the specifics of the current form of the bill. Co-host Brian Kilmeade spoke appreciatively of Trump for “getting her hands dirty through this entire process.” Co-host Steve Doocy exclaimed that there are “so many people this benefits.” But at no point did the hosts ask Trump about how the bill directly benefits her business, her eventual estate inheritance, her husband Jared Kushner’s business, and his personal estate.

In addition to benefiting from the corporate tax cut, which will likely lower taxes for Ivanka’s clothing company, Trump and Kushner will benefit from a provision that particularly impacts those working in commercial real estate, where both President Donald Trump and Kushner have built their careers. The Republican bill lowers taxes on “pass-through income,” or money earned through partnerships or groups that is then passed on to the owner and taxed at the individual tax rate. As The New York Times reported, Kushner stands to benefit dramatically from this cut because he owns properties through “limited liability companies [LLCs] and other similar vehicles.” Over the weekend, as lawmakers clambered to gain necessary support for the bill, a last minute provision was added that could further benefit Kushner and Trump by allowing companies with no employees to deduct a percentage of their pass-through income (both Kushner and Trump have LLCs that could qualify).

In addition to likely increases in Ivanka’s and Kushner’s business earnings, both stand to gain from changes to the estate tax, which is a tax on the transfer of wealth from a deceased person. Members of extremely rich families, like Ivanka and Kushner, stand to benefit from the bill’s doubling of the amount of money that super-rich families can pass along tax-free.

Despite the clear financial advantages of the GOP’s tax bill for Ivanka and her family, the hosts of Fox & Friendsfailed to question whether her support for the bill is impacted by the benefits she stands to gain. From the December 18 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): Ivanka Trump has been actually getting her hands dirty through this entire process, talking to lawmakers about the deal, and making sure it comes out. Ivanka Trump welcome back to the couch.

IVANKA TRUMP: Thank you. I love being here.

KILMEADE: Is this about — do you feel as though you’re across the finish line?

TRUMP: So in business until it’s done, it’s not done. But we feel very, very confident. So the momentum is there. We’re very excited. When the vote is done, we’ll be done. But we’re going to deliver historic tax reforms, and it’s going to happen before Christmas. It’s going to be the fulfillment of an enormous campaign promise, and something that’s just tremendously important for the American people. We feel it. This is something the people of this country want. They want simplification. They want a tax code that they can understand. They want lower corporate taxes and understand the benefit if the companies they work for can invest in their workforces, invest in new equipment, and ultimately lead to wage growth. And I think what we’ve done on the individual side by doubling the standard deduction, by doubling the child tax credit and increasing refundability to $2,000 a child. By creating a dependent care tax credit for those in — for those many Americans who take care of adult dependents who aren’t children, who are above the age of 18, but who are still dependent on them.

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): There are so many people this benefits. You would think that there would be some Democrats who would say you know what? I’m for tax cuts for the middle class. I’m for helping small businesses. Why aren’t there any Democrats?

TRUMP: One would think that and there are a lot of Democrats and they’re all across this country. So the voters —

DOOCY: But what about the ones in the Senate?

TRUMP: Well, we’ve had a lot of very productive conversations with Democrats who I believe are intellectually there. Their hearts are there but the party is not there and the leadership’s not there.

KILMEADE: Leadership’s not letting them.

TRUMP: And that is unfortunate. But I’m hopeful with this really enormous and historic win for the American people, we come into 2018 with such tremendous momentum that we galvanize support and cohesion — not only within the party because I think one of the amazing things is how the party has come together, worked together to accomplish with what they know the American people want.

AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Ivanka, we keep hearing [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer [(D-NY)] and [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi [(D-CA)], we had some guests on this morning, they keep saying it’s going to hurt the middle class. But when you look at the tax brackets, everyone’s numbers go down. Where are they getting that? Is that just a sound bite, a narrative that they want you to believe? Or is it actually true?

TRUMP: Well, keep in mind that the vast majority of Congress in advance — of Democrats — signed a letter in advance of knowing what was in the tax bill saying that they wouldn’t be for tax reform.

EARHARDT: Before they read it.

TRUMP: Before they read it and before any of the details, even the principles, had been released. So I think we are in a very partisan climate, in that regard. But the core principles of tax reform, the president and all of Congress has been very, very articulate of since day one. The president said that he wanted to deliver middle income tax relief. Targeted middle income tax relief, and he also wanted to cut corporate rates to enable our businesses to be competitive and to thrive in a global economy. And this bill does exactly those things.

KILMEADE: I mean, [President Ronald] Reagan went from 50 to 28 [percent], that was substantial. You go down 2 [percent], and they are saying this is tax cuts for the rich. But possibly the thing that’s going to be the most outstanding about this and it’s permanent is the corporate tax rate. So it goes from 35 to 21 [percent]. Now, if these CEOs and these corporations decide to invest in their own dividends and buy their own stock, that would not make it an effective corporate tax cut. It will make make all those naysayers say I told you so. Have you reached out to any of these CEOs and said what do you plan on doing with the tax break? And even though you can’t make them do anything, do you let them know what is at stake if they don’t?

TRUMP: One hundred percent. And we’ve been working very, very closely with the whole business community. Businesses large and small. So from day one, their voices have been represented at the table. If you think about it, small businesses will have the lowest taxes since 1931. So think about how that gives them the latitude to be able to invest in growth. So, when you look at the developed world, the reality is that over the decades that have passed since the last major comprehensive tax reform under Reagan, the rest of the world realized that cutting taxes enabled them to be competitive and their rates dropped dramatically below ours. So this puts us on par or below. It’s going to enable us to be competitive, and then it’s going to enable these big companies and small companies to grow. And when you grow, you create jobs, you create wage growth, and we’re seeing that. And that combined with the administration’s aggressive deregulatory actions is really fueling tremendous growth.

DOOCY: The one-two punch.