President Donald Trump told Issac and Emily Howard that the tax plan being negotiated in Congress would eliminate their $2,500 tax bill, and might give them another $700 or more back.
Congress was still hammering out a plan to overhaul the nation’s tax system when Emily Howard’s phone rang.
A friend, who works for a state representative in Thurston County, asked if Howard and her family wanted to go to Washington to appear with President Donald Trump at his speech about the new federal tax proposal.
The White House, facing criticism that the biggest gains will go to corporations and the rich, was looking for families to illustrate benefits to the middle class. Howard and her husband, Issac, who runs a small business servicing espresso machines, fit the bill.
“We found out Monday at 10 p.m. that we were picked,’’ said the Tenino, Thurston County, mother of four. The next day, the family flew East, and on Wednesday, stood near Trump as he announced how much each family could be expected to save under the plan Congress is still working out.
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Many of the plan’s details have not been released publicly. Still, the president announced what he said would be significant savings for the Howards, one of five families to appear at Wednesday’s event.
“They’re currently in the 15 percent bracket, and pay $2,500 in taxes,’’ Trump said. “Our plan will totally wipe out their tax bill, and they might even get a refund of substantially more than $700.”
And then he invited the family to the podium to speak.
Emily Howard, 33, said she was surprised at the amount, having heard it for the first time only about a minute before stepping up to the microphone holding her 4-year-old daughter, Lucy, in her arms.
She had volunteered to speak for her family at the request of the White House, which wanted at least one woman’s voice at the podium, she said.
“What this means to us as a family is that we will be able to pour out into our community,’’ she said to the assembled audience at the White House. “Whatever that looks like: Giving away to families that are in need, or setting them up for success in any way … Whatever God has planned for our family, that is our goal.”
She praised the president and thanked him for being a good steward for the country.
Later, in an interview, she said she wasn’t sure how the White House calculated the family’s new tax bill, or what provisions were changed to produce the savings.
“They said Mr. President wanted to tell us himself how much we would save,’’ she said. “All of us were pretty surprised and pleased and happy. I think I said ‘Awesome’ pretty loud at one point.”
Regardless of the amount, she said, the family relishes the opportunity to be able to give more to others.
After Trump’s speech, the Howards took pictures with Vice President Mike Pence, who was sitting in the front row. Afterward, her son, Gabriel, 10, asked if he could pray over Pence.
Howard said Gabriel prayed aloud that Pence would continue to be guided by wisdom, and that he and the president would be successful in everything they did.
Pence hugged the boy, and told him to “never lose that boldness.”
The family toured the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and bowled in the White House bowling alley before heading off to the airport to return to Washington on what would be the second time in their young lives that the children flew on an airplane.