Carlos Curbelo Likely Made Tens of Thousands From His Own Tax-Cut Vote

When Miami U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo enthusiastically backed the GOP's tax bill, he conve niently failed to mention the deal would directly benefit his wife's investment holdings. The Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act loosened fees on companies such as Captiol Gains LLC, which is registered to Curbelo's home address in suburban Kendall under the name of his wife, Cecila Curbelo. The LLC lists earnings "between $100,000 to $1 million per year," according to his financial disclosures.

Now the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress (CAP) has released data showing exactly how much Curbelo's family stands to gain from his own tax vote — and it could be anywhere from $12,000 to $106,500, by CAP's estimates.

According to CAP's calculations, Curbelo's vote saved his family anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 in non-real-estate assets and another $2,000 to $6,500 in real-estate holdings. Of the 21 congresspeople listed in the memo, Curbelo was tied with Indiana Rep. Susan Brooks for last in terms of projected savings — Indiana Rep. Rey Hollingsworth stands to make an astounding $676,004 to $4.6 million from his own vote. Bradenton/Sarasota Rep. Vern Buchanan came in second (with estimated savings of $317,752 to $2.1 million), while nearby Central Florida Rep. Tom Rooney came in eighth.

Neither of the other Miami Republicans who voted for the bill — Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — appears to own similar assets, based on the data CAP released last night to Crooked Media, a left-leaning site run by former Obama staffers.

Curbelo's office did not immediately respond to a message from New Times.

If the congressman pocketed an extra $106,500 thanks to the tax bill he passed, it would be no small change. Pro-tax-bill Republicans have tried to couch businesses such as Curbelo's LLC — which are called "pass-throughs" because profits pass directly from business to owner — as a common middle-class kind of investment. But critics say the provision will largely benefit the nation's top earners. The bill gives new breaks on profits from pass-through companies thanks to language inserted at the last minute before the vote; analysts say the move was likely meant to get Sen. Bob Corker, who owns tons of real-estate assets, to switch his vote to yes and ensure the vote's passage. Corker has denied the pass-through benefits swayed his decision.

Curbelo is flailing around online trying to come up with a messaging strategy to ensure he retains his congressional seat, but in what is expected to be a Democratic wave election sparked by anti-Trump sentiment, some polls show Curbelo in a virtual tie with his largely unknown opponent, Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. Curbelo's twin votes last year to roll back Obamacare (which failed) and for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are weighing heavily around his neck in a district that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Though Republicans, including Curbelo and Sen. Marco Rubio, have claimed the tax cut is "working" to raise wages for middle-class Americans, Rubio has since openly admitted he did not believe the bill would actually create economic growth across the nation. Instead, MarketWatch reports that though "not much" of the bill's gains are going to "ordinary families," major corporations are instead using their tax breaks to buy back their own stock at a record pace. Stock buybacks boost stock prices and give corporations greater control over their own company decisions, but gains almost exclusively go back to shareholders and high-level executives. CNBC reports the tax bill has sparked a record $170 billion in corporate buybacks: Cisco bought $25 billion of its own stock, followed by Wells Fargo's $22 billion purchase, Pepsi's $15 billion buyback, and pharmaceutical giant Amgen's $10 billion self-investment.

Yesterday the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that thanks to revenue losses from the tax bill, the federal deficit is projected to top $1 trillion by 2020. It would be one thing if the nation were adding to the deficit to, say, afford better social programs for the poor, but Rubio has instead hinted that social-spending cuts are next.

Now the nation is taking on huge debt simply to give corporations — and the Curbelo family — a nice tax cut.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.