Trump launches push for tax overhaul
White House, GOP lawmakers have yet to finalize details of plan
Springfield, Mo. — President Donald Trump launched his fall push to overhaul the nation’s tax system by pledging Wednesday that the details-to-come plan would “bring back Main Street” by reducing the crushing tax burden on middle-class Americans, making a populist appeal for a proposal expected to heavily benefit corporate America.
Trump said his vision for re-writing the tax system, a key campaign pledge, would unlock stronger economic growth and benefit companies and workers alike. He promised it would be “pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-worker and pro-American.”
True to form for the president, Trump dangled the prospect of the “biggest ever” tax cut and warned that without it, “jobs in our country cannot take off the way they should. And it could be much worse than that.”
Trump, who rarely travels to promote his policy agenda, chose to debut his tax overhaul pitch before employees at a manufacturing plant in Springfield, Missouri, a community known as the birthplace of Route 66, one of the nation’s original highways, and one known as America’s Main Street.
“This is where America’s Main Street will begin its big, beautiful comeback,” the president declared.
After eight months without any major legislative victories and after a significant defeat on health care, Trump and Republican congressional leaders face mounting pressure to notch some significant achievements before next year’s midterm elections. But the tax overhaul effort already is facing political headwinds.
The White House and Republican lawmakers have not finalized details of the plan, and the push comes as Congress returns to face an intense September workload filled with mustdo items such as raising the debt limit, funding the government and providing assistance for the Harvey recovery effort.
While the White House has been designing a tax plan aimed at appealing to Republicans, Trump sought to cast the effort in bipartisan terms. He called on members of both parties to work with him on a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver real tax reform for everyday hard-working Americans.”
“I am fully committed to working with Congress to get this job done — and I don’t want to be disappointed by Congress, do you understand?” Trump said. “Do you understand? Congress. I think Congress is going to make a comeback.”
The president used the official White House event to inject an overtly political message aimed at Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, a top Republican target in next year’s midterm elections.
“We must lower our taxes, and your senator, Claire McCaskill, she must do this for you. And if she doesn’t do it for you, you have got to vote her out of office,” Trump said, drawing out each of the last five words for emphasis.
Even before Trump took the stage, Democrats eagerly laid down their own markers for what the tax plan should look like.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer outlined a series of conditions, telling reporters the tax cuts should not go to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. He added that the plan should not increase the budget deficit and should be written by both parties — not just Republicans like the GOP’s failed health care effort.
“If the president wants to use populism to sell his tax plan, he ought to consider actually putting his money where his mouth is” and cut taxes for the middle class, not the richest Americans, Schumer said.
The Trump administration released a one-page set of goals in April for its tax overhaul, followed by a joint statement in July with congressional leaders.
President Donald Trump delivers remarks on tax reform at the Loren Cook Company on Wednesday in Springfield, Mo.