President Donald Trump must’ve spent some time offstage Monday night in Houston talking up his new middle-class tax cut idea to Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, because the House chief’s tax writer has agreed to take on the project.
In recent days Trump has started talking about working with Congress on new tax cut legislation focused on providing further relief to the middle-class. He initially said a measure would be unveiled before November 1, revised that to after the election and then reversed the time back to next week.
Then at the White House on Tuesday, when asked about it, Trump offered another back pedal: “We’ll start the work sometime after the midterms.”
No one in Congress or the White House seemed to know what Trump was talking about.
“Right now, the person who’s discussing the 10-percent tax cut for the White House is the president, and so you should go to the press office and to the president if you want more information on that,” Kevin Hassett, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said on an unrelated press call Tuesday morning.
The House had already passed a second round of tax cuts in September, with bills to make the GOP’s individual and small business tax cuts permanent and expand incentives for start-ups and retirements savings. The Senate had no immediate plans to take those bills up.
GOP taxwriters and leaders in both chambers had not been talking about any more tax cuts this year, although they had hoped to pass a technical corrections bill fixing some of the issues in their 2017 tax overhaul.
But then came Trump saying he wanted to pass an additional 10 percent tax cut for middle-class families.
It seemed like a far fetched idea until Brady put out a statement Tuesday saying his panel would work with the White House and Treasury to develop such a bill.
“Building on the economic success of Republican tax cuts, which the House recently voted to make permanent as one part of Tax Reform 2.0, President Trump is determined to provide further tax relief for middle-class families,” Brady said, making clear who is driving this effort.
“We will continue to work with the White House and Treasury over the coming weeks to develop an additional 10 percent tax cut focused specifically on middle-class families and workers, to be advanced as Republicans retain the House and Senate,” Brady added.
The Texas Republican’s statement comes after Trump, during a Houston rally Monday night to boost Sen. Ted Cruz’s re-election campaign, called out Brady saying the tax-writing chairman had been working with him on the 10 percent middle-income tax cut for a few months and that they’d be “putting it in” next week.
Watch: The Trump and Cruz Rally in Under 2 Minutes
Brady’s statement about continuing to work with the White House played into the president’s narrative, although it seemed to slow down the timeframe to allow the midterm elections to pass and Congress to come back into session.
If Trump is serious about adding a tax cut bill to the lame-duck agenda, he’s only competing with himself as the main issue expected to be debated after the midterms is funding for his border wall.
John T. Bennett contributed to this report.