Appearing to react to the opposition party’s criticism of his tax overhaul framework, President Donald Trump on Thursday declared “Democrats don’t want massive tax cuts.”
A day after Trump and congressional Republicans rolled out a blueprint for corporate and individual tax rate reductions and code changes, the GOP president went after Democrats, even as he a day earlier pressed them to get on board with tax legislation he wants to sign before the end of the year.
His conclusion that Democrats oppose tax cuts came in a morning tweet. Trump also asked rhetorically in the same post, “how does that win elections?” And the president ended his tax tweet by declaring his blueprint is getting “Great reviews.”
Democrats don’t want massive tax cuts – how does that win elections? Great reviews for Tax Cut and Reform Bill.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 28, 2017
The GOP’s nine-page outline, from which the House and Senate will now begin writing separate bills featuring tax cuts and code changes, is scant on details. The document proposes individual and corporate rate cuts, doubling the standard deduction for single and joint filers, eliminating most itemized deductions, expanding the child tax credit, repealing the so-called estate tax, and making it less painful for companies to return profits to the United States.
Trump wants Democrats to get involved in the coming process of the House and Senate tax-writing panels, filling in a list of blanks on details that the White House-congressional GOP framework left blank. He hopes Democrats’ involvement will lead to their support of the final product. And he pressed for just that during a tax speech Wednesday in Indianapolis.
“Tax reform has not historically been a partisan issue — and it does not have to be a partisan issue today,” Trump said. “There is no reason that Democrats and Republicans in Congress should not come together to deliver this giant win for the American people and begin the ‘middle-class miracle’ once again.”
Indiana Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly traveled to the Hoosier State aboard Air Force One with Trump and was in the audience. Trump called him out by name.
“If Sen. Donnelly doesn’t approve it … we will come here, we will campaign against him like you wouldn’t believe,” Trump said with wide grin before a crowd of the senator’s constituents. “I think we’ll have numerous Democrats come across because it’s the right thing to do.”
Some rank-and-file Democratic members who are vulnerable in the 2018 midterm election cycle are at least publicly leaving open the door to supporting the final version of a tax bill.
“You’re damn right,” Sen. Jon Tester told Roll Call Wednesday when asked if he is willing to support the final bill if it meets most of his criteria. But Tester said the focus should be on small businesses and middle-class families. Trump carried Montana by 21 points last fall.
Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia said he would be willing to support it — but warned any measure that lowers the tax rate for the richest Americans would be “very difficult” for Democrats to sign on to.
The Trump-GOP framework proposes a 35 percent highest individual rate, which would be down from 39.6 percent. That’s a major reason why some top Democrats wasted little time in slamming the plan.
“For the last several months, we Democrats have been united in arguing that not one penny of tax relief should go to the top 1 percent,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York told reporters Wednesday. “Any tax reform plan should be fiscally responsible, so as not to put important programs like Medicare at risk.”
“Under this plan, the wealthiest Americans and wealthiest corporations make out like bandits, while middle-class Americans are left holding the bag,” Schumer added.
Sen. Ron Wyden, Senate Finance Committee ranking member, said Wednesday that the framework offers “a new way to funnel tax breaks to Mar-a-Largo’s most loyal members,” referring to the president’s Florida resort.
“If all you did was listen to the talking points and read the tweets, it would be easy to think that this Republican plan would focus on middle-class families,” Wyden said. “But no amount of spin, no amount of rhetoric can hide the fact that this is a far right Republican scheme to endow future generations of the mega-wealthy and leave what amounts to crumbs for the middle class behind.”
Ellyn Ferguson contributed to this report.