Trump, GOP take victory lap after passage of tax bill

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSasse: Trump shouldn't dignify Putin with Helsinki summit Top LGBT group projects message onto Presidential Palace in Helsinki ahead of Trump-Putin summit Hillary Clinton to Trump ahead of Putin summit: 'Do you know which team you play for?' MORE on Wednesday hailed the passage of the GOP’s tax overhaul, calling it the “largest” tax cut in history and declaring that it would supercharge the U.S. economy.

Speaking from the South Lawn of the White House, an ebullient Trump was flanked by scores of beaming GOP lawmakers who gathered to celebrate the party’s first major legislative victory since he became president.

“We broke every record,” Trump said. “It's the largest, I always say the most massive, but it’s the largest tax cut in the history of our country and reform. Something special.” 

The $1.5 trillion bill provides major tax cuts for corporations and wealthy individuals and more modest reductions for the middle-class and low-income families. 

While the cuts are among the largest since 1918, they are not the largest in history, according to an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Democrats have dismissed the measure as a giveaway to the wealthy. But Trump predicted that corporate tax cuts would bring companies back to the U.S and attract $4 trillion in new investments, creating more jobs and growing wages.

Trump also highlighted elements of the bill he said would benefit the middle class, claiming a typical family of four would receive a tax cut of more than $2,000 a year. 

"Ultimately what does it mean? It means jobs, jobs, jobs," Trump said

Trump had been frustrated by the inability of Congress — and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDoug Jones walks tightrope on Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh gets questionnaires for confirmation hearing Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick MORE (R-Ky.) in particular — to pass his legislative agenda.

The Kentucky Republican drew the wrath of Trump earlier this year after the Senate failed to repeal former President Obama’s signature health-care law.

But on Wednesday, there were no signs of tensions amid the party atmosphere on the South Lawn. 

A military band played Christmas carols, including “Let It Snow” and “Jingle Bells,” as lawmakers gathered on two grand staircases surrounding the South Portico.

Trump lauded McConnell and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders jockey for affection of House conservatives Five GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump walks back criticism of UK Brexit strategy | McConnell worries US in 'early stages' of trade war | US trade deficit with China hits new record MORE (R-Wis.) for their work in getting the legislation across the finish line before the end of the year, drawing roaring applause from their congressional colleagues.

“What a team,” Trump said. “We got together and we worked very hard, didn't we? Seems like it was a lot of fun. It’s always fun when you win. If you work hard and lose, that's not acceptable.” 

The president joked around with the lawmakers, even saying the near-fatal gunshot wound suffered by House Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseGOP leaders jockey for affection of House conservatives Five GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus Overnight Energy: House to vote on anti-carbon tax measure | Dem says EPA obstructed 'politically charged' FOIA requests | GOP looks to overhaul endangered species law MORE (R-La.) was a "hell of a way" to lose weight.

GOP lawmakers on Wednesday cast the first year of the Trump presidency as a resounding success and they lined up to shower the president with praise. 

McConnell stepped to the lectern to praise what he called “a year of extraordinary accomplishment for the Trump administration,” citing the fast pace of judicial confirmations and a string of regulatory rollbacks.

Ryan said tax reform could not have gotten done without Trump’s “exquisite presidential leadership.”

Vice President Pence said that the passage of the tax bill would be “remembered as a pivotal moment in the life of our nation” and called Trump a “man of action.”

But the man who seemed most enamored with Trump was Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGOP moderates hint at smooth confirmation ahead for Kavanaugh GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE Yale Law School students, alumni denounce Trump Supreme Court pick MORE (R-Utah), the chairman of the Senate’s tax-writing committee. 

He predicted the tax measure would be the first step toward making “this the greatest presidency that we've seen, not only in generations, but maybe ever."

Republicans, however, have their work cut out of them to sell the tax bill to the public.

Polls show the GOP bill is hugely unpopular, though Republicans are optimistic that public sentiment will turn in their favor once people see their paychecks rise next year.

For now, Democrats appear to be winning the war of public opinion. Polling shows that voters largely oppose slashing corporate tax rates, believing the benefits will not trickle down to them.

Sixty-three percent of Americans polled believe the GOP tax plan is designed mostly to benefit corporations and the wealthy, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey. 

The White House is confident Trump can help turn the tide. 

One senior official called the former business mogul a “genius brander” who came up with catchphrases such as “tax cuts for Christmas” that resonated with lawmakers and the public. 

Officials said Trump plans to keep giving speeches both in Washington and around the country next year touting the legislation. 

The president got an early boost on that front Wednesday when AT&T announced it would distribute thousands of dollars it saves in taxes to its employees. 

Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottGOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE Senate takes symbolic shot at Trump tariffs Congress should prioritize diversity so government reflects Americans MORE (R-S.C.) took the lectern to say the GOP’s tax plan would be a particular boon to “distressed communities throughout the country.”

Scott said the bill would “bring trillions of dollars into poor communities,” helping single-parent households. 

“This is a plan that we can be proud of because it speaks to the hearts of everyday Americans,” Scott said.

- This story was updated at 4:39 p.m.