Trump’s Tax Plan Leaves Plenty TBD

A new poll finds most people are in favor of “major changes” to existing tax laws.

Sept. 27, 2017, 11:22 a.m.

“Republicans on Wednesday will propose slashing tax rates for the wealthy, middle class and businesses, while also preserving popular tax deductions that encourage buying homes and giving to charity, according to a 9-page document obtained by the Washington Post.

“But the document, titled ‘Unified Framework For Fixing Our Broken Tax Code,’ leaves many key questions unanswered. In it, the White House and Republican congressional leaders do not identify the numerous tax breaks that they say will be removed in order to offset some of the trillions of dollars in revenue lost by cutting tax rates.

“The framework is being presented to Republicans and the public Wednesday as a starting point for negotiations on revamping the U.S. tax code. Congress must vote the changes into law, and Republican leaders are now tasked with resolving controversial questions to unite their party — and possibly some Democrats — behind tax legislation.” (Washington Post)

“The framework … leaves most of the details to Congress but proposes a reduction in the individual rate to 35 percent from 39.6 percent, while leaving the door open for an unspecified, higher bracket for the wealthiest Americans. The plan would also, for the first time, create a 25 percent tax for ‘pass through’ businesses, which account for the vast majority of business income in the United States and are currently taxed at individual rates.

“Pulling the tax code levers inevitably creates winners and losers, but the scant details of the plan, including how it will be paid for and which deductions are on the chopping block, make it impossible to determine the distributional effects and whether it would actually help middle-class taxpayers and not the wealthiest Americans.” (New York Times)

LONELY AT THE TOP. “GOP insiders say the administration — and Trump in particular — are sensitive to accusations that their plan would benefit top earners. That’s not only because Trump’s populist base is mostly middle-class earners but also because he and his Cabinet members are incredibly wealthy — and they don’t want to be seen as throwing kickbacks to one another.” (Politico)

Meanwhile, Trump “is expected to tout the Republicans’ new tax blueprint as one of the biggest tax cuts in recent American history at a … rally in Indiana – but Republican lawmakers, lobbyists and others are worried about exactly what he’ll say.”

“Trump has a habit of going off-script at public events, editorializing and extemporizing. That’s exacerbating fears that the president could upend months of behind-the-scenes negotiations by the so-called Big Six—a group of White House officials, Hill Republican leaders, and committee heads—over the blueprint document Trump will introduce to the greater public in Indiana.” (Politico)

MORE ON MONEY. “Trump raised an estimated $5 million at a fundraiser in New York on Tuesday night — money that will benefit the Republican Party and his 2020 re-election campaign.

“Trump headlined the fundraising dinner at the upscale Le Cirque restaurant in Manhattan, which drew about 150 people paying as much as $250,000 per couple, said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Cassie Smedile. Reporters were not allowed to hear any portion of the president’s remarks to donors — a break from the protocol of Trump’s predecessor.”

“Trump’s brief trip back to Manhattan included a stop at the United Nations to meet with the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, and other U.S. diplomatic officials.” (AP)

Trump arrived at the fundraiser in “an especially jovial mood, attendees at the closed-door fundraiser said, delivering a freewheeling address that touched on everything from the controversy he stirred about NFL protests to tax reform, health care and his dealings with world leaders, in particular Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau … saying that Trudeau once argued that the US had an $11 billion trade surplus with Canada — rather than the deficit Trump has long claimed.” (CNN)

TAX POLL. A new CNN poll (Sept. 17-Sept. 20; 1,053 adults; +/-3.7%) by SSRS “finds most in favor of major changes to the nation’s tax laws.”

“All told, 68% say the federal income tax system needs either a complete overhaul (35%) or major changes (33%). That cuts across party lines, including 77% of Republicans, 70% of independents and 62% of Democrats.

“Asked about the impact of a reform effort led by Trump, though, about four in 10 say they expect taxes for the middle class to rise, while just 25% say middle class taxes will drop. Likewise, more Americans think their own personal taxes would go up under this effort than drop (34% to 21%). More see tax decreases on the horizon for big businesses (47% say so) and for the wealthy (42%).”

Moreover, “Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say their own taxes would drop under a Trump-led plan (40% among Republicans, 11% among Democrats) and that middle-class taxes would decline (52% among Republicans, 9% among Democrats).” (CNN)

HEALTH CARE. “During a closed-door party meeting to discuss their terms of surrender,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) “told fellow Republicans that Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who opposed repeal over the summer, said she’d be open to his plan under other conditions, according to GOP senators in the room.

“The decision on Tuesday not to vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill marked the fourth Obamacare repeal bill failure since the summer began. But Republicans say they’re not going to stop, and Murkowski’s decision not to oppose the bill provided a small victory in an otherwise painful defeat.”

“The discussion at the closed-door GOP meeting Tuesday was short on health care and long on tax reform. It seemed that after talking about health care for four months, there wasn’t much left to go over and most Republicans had all come to the same conclusion: Another failed vote would only heighten the bad vibes in the party. A vote McConnell’s office said could happen this week was pulled.” (Politico)

DREAMERS. The White House is “expected to ask Congress to approve a Republican wish list of immigration policies as part of a deal to protect hundreds of thousands of young people brought into the country illegally as children, known as Dreamers.”

“Talking points written by the president’s Domestic Policy Council and given to some members of the conservative Freedom Caucus on Capitol Hill include a dozen proposals grouped into three broad areas — border security, interior enforcement and merit-based immigration.

“The proposals run afoul of the tentative agreement Trump discussed with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at a Sept. 13 dinner at the White House, according to a Democratic staffer on the Hill who asked for anonymity to discuss a preliminary proposal.”

“The White House document includes several proposals already introduced in standalone bills — eliminating protections for unaccompanied children who are in the country illegally; restricting eligibility for asylum, humanitarian parole and abused or abandoned foreign children; raising fees for visas; reducing legal immigration by placing people with certain skills at the front of the line; hiring thousands more immigration officers, prosecutors and judges; and implementing E-verify, an online system that allows businesses to check immigration status. In some cases, the talking points cited the specific bill numbers.” (McClatchy)

DEA. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s acting leader Chuck Rosenberg “will resign at the end of the week, according to law enforcement officials, who said he had become convinced that … Trump had little respect for the law.

“Rosenberg, who twice served as chief of staff to the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey and remains a close confidant, had grown disillusioned with … Trump. The president fired … Comey in May, and then in July told law enforcement officers ‘please don’t be too nice’ when handling crime suspects.” (New York Times)

PAC MONEY. “As House Republicans get ready to release the details of their tax reform proposal on Wednesday, rank-and-file GOP members spent Tuesday morning learning what consequences might befall them if they don’t get onboard.

“During a closed-door meeting with House GOP members on Tuesday, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) let American Action Network’s executive director, Corry Bliss, present members with three different ads that the tax-exempt, 501(c)4 organization has been running in some districts ― and might run in their districts, with a slightly different tone, depending on how upcoming legislative battles go.

“All three ads were supportive of tax reform ― and none of them were explicitly negative against members ― but they showed different endings depending on whose district the ad was running in, according to members in attendance. As one example, an ad made a pitch to overhaul the tax code and then urged viewers to call the office of Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.) to tell him to support the reform.” (HuffPost)

RUSSIAN MONEY. “Three Americans with significant Russian business connections contributed almost $2 million to political funds controlled by … Trump. …The timing of contributions coming from US citizens with ties to Russia is now being questioned by investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller, according to a Republican campaign aide interviewed by Mueller’s team.

“Unless the contributions were directed by a foreigner, they would be legal, but could still be of interest to investigators examining allegations of Russian influence in the 2016 campaign, said … Schiff.” (ABC News)

SPORTS MONEY. The Republican National Committee “sent out at least two emails from ‘Team Trump’ with a link reading ‘Yes, I stand with President Trump.’”

“The link connects to survey asking, ‘Do you stand with President Trump for our flag, our country, and our heroes?’ Whatever your answer, you are then taken to a page which says, ‘We must honor our heroes, this country, and everything we stand for. Take the next step and stand with President Trump by making a contribution today.’” (USA Today)

ARIZONA. Vice President Mike Pence is expected to hold an event in Arizona’s Valley next Tuesday with RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel and National Finance Chair Steve Wynn.

“The event is expected to be held in Phoenix, but an exact time and location are only given after someone submits a reservation, which will cost at least $5,400 to attend and must come from an email invite from the party.” (ABC 15)

Meanwhile, former sheriff Joe Arpaio, who Trump recently pardoned, “will speak to a sold out crowd at a Fresno County GOP fundraiser” on Friday. (Fox 26)

NORTH KOREA. “North Korean government officials have been quietly trying to arrange talks with Republican-linked analysts in Washington, in an apparent attempt to make sense of … Trump and his confusing messages to Kim Jong Un’s regime.

“The outreach began before the current eruption of threats between the two leaders but probably will become more urgent as Trump and Kim have descended into name-calling that, many analysts worry, sharply increases the chances of potentially catastrophic misunderstandings.”

“…to get a better understanding of American intentions, in the absence of official diplomatic talks with the U.S. government, North Korea’s mission to the United Nations invited Bruce Klingner, a former CIA analyst who is now the Heritage Foundation’s top expert on North Korea, to visit Pyongyang for meetings.” (Washington Post)

MOVES. “Trump’s former chief of staff, Reince Priebus, has been interviewing with speakers bureaus around Washington, D.C., as he seeks a place on the lucrative paid speaking circuit, according to multiple sources familiar with his life-after-Trump plans.

“Priebus, who was pulling down an annual White House salary of $179,700, has yet to close on a deal. But he has met with Keppler Speakers Bureau.”

“Since leaving the White House in July, Priebus, a Kenosha, Wisconsin, native widely regarded as a weak chief of staff, has kept a lower profile than more colorful ex-Trump aides.” (Politico)

Meanwhile, Jesse Kamzol, “ former RNC chief data officer, has joined data and analytics firm Genus AI’s Washington office for political and consumer clients.” (Politico)

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