President Donald Trump promoted a tax overhaul as essential to boosting economic growth as he huddled Tuesday at the White House with his advisers and the congressional leaders shepherding his push to overhaul the nation’s tax code.
“We’re going to cut taxes,” Trump vowed during a Roosevelt Room meeting with the so-called Big Six tax negotiators — National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the leaders of the congressional tax-writing committees.
Administration officials said before the meeting that they didn’t expect it to produce any major policy breakthroughs, but instead serve as a kickoff to congressional efforts to flesh out the Big Six’s statement of tax principles released in July. Details of a revamp remain scant, with basic questions like where corporate and individual rates will be set unanswered.
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Trump stuck to well-practiced talking points when reporters were invited in for a portion of the meeting, repeating admonitions that the tax code should be “as simple as possible” and that a tax cut would produce “millions of new jobs.”
The president is taking his tax sales pitch on the road, traveling to North Dakota on Wednesday to outline why an overhaul is needed and how it would benefit the middle class. The state, home to Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, is the second time in as many weeks that the president has used his travel to needle a vulnerable Democrat facing a tough reelection battle in 2018. Last week, Trump made his first major speech on taxes in Missouri, and said if Democrat Claire McCaskill didn’t support his push, “you have to vote her out of office.”
The White House has said that a dramatic cut to the corporate rate is essential to fostering the kind of economic growth Trump promised on the campaign trail. The president has yet to achieve a signature law of his own after the failure of the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
But lawmakers are already facing a jam-packed legislative calendar, including pushes to fund the federal government, increase the nation’s debt borrowing authority, and pay for recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. That agenda got even fuller earlier Tuesday when the president announced his plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program, which offers protection to immigrants who came to the country illegally as children. Administration officials say they now want Congress to act on DACA.
Trump is scheduled to meet Wednesday with the bipartisan leadership of both the House and Senate.