Trump looks to frame tax reform debate Wednesday
Posted August 28
President Donald Trump won't be diving deep into details as he makes his opening pitch on tax reform Wednesday in Springfield, Missouri. Instead, he'll be looking to frame the debate.
Trump's argument for tax reform will emphasize the benefits he says it will deliver for the middle class and small businesses as well as the potential for broader economic growth, an administration official said. But Trump is not expected to tie his tax reform push to specific percentages or numbers as administration officials and GOP congressional leaders continue to hash out the details of a proposal that would make its way through Congress' committee process.
The President's speech will be the first in a series of regularly scheduled trips he will make around the country to rally support for his tax reform effort, the administration official said. Trump is expected to make several more trips around the country to pitch tax reform before Congress takes up the legislation, the administration official said.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump's speech will be an opportunity for him to "speak directly to the American people" about the current tax code and to share "how his vision for reform is the jumpstart our communities need."
"Bringing tax relief to middle-income Americans and ending the rigged economy was a central part of the President's campaign and is now a top priority of his entire administration," Sanders said in a statement to CNN.
Trump's tax reform lobbying efforts are expected to be much more aggressive and visible than his Obamacare repeal effort. Tax reform was at the core of Trump's economic proposals during his campaign and it's an issue that Trump feels he can effectively pitch to the public.
Springfield is known as the birthplace of Route 66 and Trump's remarks are expected to draw on the route's moniker as the "Main Street of America," the administration official said.
The President's plans to use his office to drive public support for tax reform are a welcome change for Republicans on Capitol Hill, who lamented Trump's lackluster public engagement on Obamacare repeal efforts.
"It's going to take a lot of effort and ownership from the President to sell this. Tax reform is a very hard issue. Ultimately we'll get to a good place, but it's going to take a lot of PR and bully pulpit work to get his supporters engaged on this issue," a senior GOP congressional aide told CNN. "We didn't see a lot of that on health care obviously, but we're hoping that tax reform will be a different story there."
Trump is also kicking off his efforts in Springfield as part of a push to pressure Sen. Claire McCaskill, a vulnerable Democrat in a state Trump carried overwhelmingly in 2016, to join in supporting the tax reform push. McCaskill is expected to be just one of several Democrats the White House targets to support the tax reform effort.
The President will be joined Wednesday in Springfield by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who will also travel solo to other battleground states, such as Nevada and West Virginia, to pitch the tax reform effort.
Trump's tax reform proposal is expected to come under heavy fire from Democrats, who have already decried the initial proposals laid out by the Trump administration as offering the biggest benefits to the wealthiest Americans -- a framing of the issue Trump is looking to steer away from.
The White House in April proposed slashing the business tax rate to 15% for small and large businesses. Personal income tax brackets would be reduced to three rates of 10%, 25% and 35% under the White House proposal.
The White House is no longer expected to release its own detailed proposals for tax reform, instead working with congressional leaders as part of the "Big Six" effort to craft a tax reform plan that could earn broad Republican support.
Still, the White House faces significant hurdles as lawmakers look to pass the legislative overhaul during a busy period in Congress this fall that includes deadlines to keep the government open and raise the debt ceiling.
Mnuchin said Friday the administration's tax reform push had already taken longer than he had hoped.
"Earlier in the year, I said I thought we'd get it done by August, and I was wrong, OK?" Mnuchin said from the White House briefing room. "I am now going to say that I'm very hopeful and I think we can get this done by the end of the year, but we will continue to revisit that."