"You all just got a lot richer," Trump tells friends, referencing tax overhaul

Last Updated Dec 24, 2017 9:36 AM EST

President Trump kicked off his holiday weekend at Mar-a-Lago Friday night at a dinner where he told friends, "You all just got a lot richer," referencing the sweeping tax overhaul he signed into law hours earlier. Mr. Trump directed those comments to friends dining nearby at the exclusive club -- including to two friends at a table near the president's who described the remark to CBS News -- as he began his final days of his first year in office in what has become known as the "Winter White House."

The president has spent many weekends of his presidency so far at the "Winter White House," where initiation fees cost $200,000, annual dues cost $14,000, and some of the most affluent members of society have the opportunity to interact with the president in a setting while many Americans cannot. This weekend, the president arrived after signing the most consequential legislation, and arguably, the greatest achievement, of his presidency thus far.

For months, the White House and congressional Republicans have looked to tackle tax reform, a feat some critics deemed too challenging after Republicans' failure to find a compromise on health care. But on Wednesday, the Senate and House, in that order, passed what Mr. Trump has deemed the "biggest in history" tax cut and reform bill.

The president and White House have emphasized repeatedly that the tax legislation is targeted as a tax break for the middle class. And, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, 80 percent of Americans will pay less in taxes next year, and less than 5 percent will see their taxes go up less than $10. CBS News had a tax professional assess the taxes of three families, and found they will all go down under the new law.

On Saturday when asked for comment, the White House reiterated the benefit of the new law to the middle class.

But critics point out that some aspects of the GOP tax overhaul -- such as the doubling of the cap for the estate tax break and lowering of corporate and S-corporation taxes -- disproportionately benefit the most affluent Americans. The president has said the tax bill is "not good" for him personally, although that statement is difficult to assess when he has declined to release his tax returns.

The president himself on Sept. 13 -- long before the bill was finalized -- said the wealthy would not benefit from the GOP tax overhaul.

"The rich will not be gaining at all with this plan. We are looking for the middle class and we are looking for jobs -- jobs being the economy," Mr. Trump said. 

Still, the tax overhaul is a legislative victory for the president, as he completes his first year in office and ends out the year at Mar-a-Lago. 

Mr. Trump spent some of Saturday golfing with friends and pro golfers Jim Herman, Daniel Berger, Justin Thomas and his father at Trump International Golf Club. 

On Saturday, the president also took to Twitter to defend Republicans' performance in congressional races, and to criticize FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who is expected to retire early next year

"How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin' James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife's campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?" Mr. Trump tweeted after his return from golfing.

"FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!" the president said in another tweet.

Mr. Trump will spend the Christmas holiday at Mar-a-Lago, with family. On Christmas Eve, according to the president's schedule, he will participate in a video teleconference with members of the military, something he also did at Thanksgiving.

Upon his return to Washington, the president faces a busy 2018.

Mr. Trump has said he hopes to tackle infrastructure funding, an issue on which he believes he can garner Democratic support.

"Infrastructure is by far the easiest. People want it -- Republicans and Democrats. We're going to have tremendous Democrat support on infrastructure as you know. I could've started with infrastructure -- I actually wanted to save the easy one for the one down the road. So we'll be having that done pretty quickly," Mr. Trump said at the White House Friday when he signed the tax overhaul.

But not everything on the legislative agenda will likely be easy for the president or his party.

The short-term spending bill Congress passed before leaving for the holidays expires on Jan. 19, at which point the House and Senate will need to agree on a new, more comprehensive spending package. Congress will also have to decide what to do about those affected by the president's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects some young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children.

There is also debate as to whether Congress will attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare again, after more than one failed attempt earlier this year. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, has also said he wants to tackle entitlement reform -- in a midterm election year nonetheless -- while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has dismissed that as a priority.

CBS News' Chip Reid and Jillian Hughes contributed to this report.

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.