President Donald Trump on Wednesday called on Congress to pass sweeping tax cuts he said would unleash the economy and lead to higher wages for all Americans, leaning hard into conservative economic theories as he tries to revive his domestic agenda.
Trump, speaking at a manufacturing company in Springfield, Missouri, provided few details of what the tax plan should look like, saying simply that he wants to cut taxes for companies and families and encourage firms to move operations back to the United States from places like China.
Unlike his boisterous rallies, Trump rarely strayed from carefully worded remarks. White House officials hope the speech will energize GOP lawmakers to push a tax cut plan into law. Within minutes of its conclusion, numerous cabinet agencies, including State and Interior, issued statements claiming Trump’s tax outline would benefit virtually every corner of the economy. Trump plans to meet with GOP leaders on Tuesday to press them to move quickly.
While Trump’s event was short on specifics and largely overshadowed by continuing coverage of Hurricane Harvey, it signaled a shift in his strategy for advancing his priorities on Capitol Hill.
During the failed push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Trump seemed disinterested in fully utilizing the bully pulpit provided by his office. He frequently spoke about what he saw as the “disaster” of Obamacare but did little to make an affirmative case for why it should be replaced with unpopular Republican-drafted legislation.
On tax reform, the White House is planning a series of pitches by Trump himself, building on his remarks Wednesday.
One senior Republican congressional aide said Trump’s speech was exactly the kind of message lawmakers want to see the president deliver and only wished he had started sooner.
“I think we need presidential leadership on this issue,” said the aide, who requested anonymity to speak more candidly. “He needs to engage his base of support and create some urgency.”
But while the White House seems to be working more closely with congressional GOP leaders on tax legislation than during the health care debate, signs of potential tensions were evident Wednesday with Trump leaving little doubt where he would place blame if this effort also fails.
“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 me?,” he said. “Do you understand? Understand? Congress. I think Congress is going to make a comeback. I hope so.”
The White House is also looking to win the support of moderate Democratic senators facing tough reelection fights next year, believing it will be more difficult for them to vote against tax legislation than it was for them to reject Republican attempts to scrap the ACA.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Damian Paletta, John Wagner