WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Saturday suggested for the first time that he would consider significant changes to the emerging tax overhaul plan, including setting the corporate tax rate at 22 percent – a rate higher than the level he had long demanded as the House and Senate crafted their legislation.

Early Saturday morning, the Senate narrowly passed a bill that would slash corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 20 percent starting in 2019. Several Republicans had tried to get GOP leaders to allow the corporate rate to settle at 22 percent in exchange for other tax breaks for families, but GOP leaders held the line at 20 percent, in part because Trump had said he would not allow it to go any higher.

But less than 12 hours later, as Trump was traveling to New York, he told reporters that he might accept 22 percent.

“Business tax all the way down from 35 to 20,” Trump told reporters, remarking on one of the elements of the Senate bill. “It could be 22 when it all comes out but it could also be 20. We’ll see what ultimately comes out.”

Every one percentage point change in the corporate tax rate is the equivalent of roughly $100 billion in revenue over 10 years. So moving the rate up two points would free up roughly $200 billion in revenue.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., had proposed setting the rate at 22 percent to allow the tax cuts to kick in next year and not delay the cut until 2019. But Trump is also under considerable pressure from donors to lower the top tax rate paid by wealthy individuals. Their tax rate did not fall much in the House and Senate tax overhaul plans, which led to griping and complaints from wealthy GOP campaign contributors.

If the White House tries to lower the top tax rate for individuals, it would mark a sharp departure from several months ago, when then-chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon advocated for raising the top tax rate paid by the wealthiest Americans as a way to follow through on some of the populist principles Trump invoked during his campaign.

Trump did not explain why he was now considering allowing a 22 percent rate. He had insisted for months that the corporate rate needed to be lowered to 15 percent, and he was angry when his top aides had to inform him that the 20 percent rate was the goal GOP leaders had set on Capitol Hill.

In October, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that lowering the top tax rate to 20 percent was “not negotiable.”

And late Friday evening, during debate on the Senate floor, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., complained that his colleagues wouldn’t even allow him to move the corporate rate to 20.94 percent, saying that they acted as it this would be a “catastrophe.”

Lowering the corporate tax rate emerged as a centerpiece of the tax plan, and Republicans have said that it will help businesses free up money to invest, grow, and raise wages. They continually reshaped the tax cut bills in the House and Senate to help businesses, even if it meant cutting back on tax benefits for individuals and families.

This has led to some political heartburn.

A number of Republicans have remarked in recent days that the tax overhaul plan that passed the House in November and the Senate early Saturday morning disproportionately helps corporations and the wealthy, and there was a limited effort in recent days to try to extend more tax cuts for families and individuals. Many of the tax breaks for families and individuals n the House and Senate bills are only temporary, while most of the corporate tax cuts are made permanent.

Even though the House and Senate have passed tax overhaul bills, there are numerous differences. They must resolve them to send an identical bill to the president that he can sign into law.

The House tax bill left the top tax bracket at 39.6 percent, although it raised the threshold of income that would be subject to that rate.

The Senate bill slightly lowered the top rate to 38.5 percent.

The White House had previously considered lowering the top income tax rate to 33 percent or 35 percent, but Republicans faced intense pressure to prevent the package from slashing taxes for the wealthy by too much.

Still, Trump has long wanted to lower the top tax rate. This change, in addition to helping the wealthy, would also help lower taxes for millions of businesses. That’s because they are structured in such a way that their owners and investors pay taxes through the individual income tax code, not through the corporate tax code.

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