President Donald Trump hit the road to sell tax reform to voters and lawmakers Wednesday, a major campaign pledge that remains short on detail and a long way from becoming law.
Trump departed the White House for Springfield, Missouri, one day after touring hurricane-ravaged southeastern Texas.
The economy has been bright spot for Trump’s troubled presidency, with unemployment rates falling and growth rates reaching their fastest clip in over two years.
Shortly before Marine One lifted off from the South Lawn of the White House, news came that economic growth had reached Trump’s target of three percent in the second quarter.
Trump has argued that ambitious reform of the tax code is needed to juice the economy further.
As a presidential candidate Trump suggested lowering corporate rates and lowering the rate for top earners.
But an administration official said Trump’s speech in the Midwest state would make the case for why America needs tax reform, rather than the nitty gritty of what he wants to change.
“The president wants to take this conversation directly to the American people,” the official said.
Trump will argue that the US tax code is simply broken and in fact six times longer than it was in 1955, the official said.
The Trump administration’s stated goal is to adopt tax reform by the end of the year, but that’s a tall task both technically and politically.
The US tax code has not been modified significantly since 1986, despite numerous efforts.
Key questions remain. For instance, Trump said in April he wants to lower the tax rate on businesses to 15 percent, but it is unclear if this rate will remain or ultimately be revised upward.
The White House is dodging questions about the details, which will decide the plan’s fate.
Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic adviser and architect of the evolving tax reform plan along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, has only said that the business tax rate should be as low as possible so that companies will be in a position to create new jobs.
Republicans control both chambers of Congress, but there is hardly a consensus on tax reform, and talks on the issue is set to be arduous.
Trump may ultimately be forced to abandon broad reform in favor of more modest, and temporary, tax relief.
Even then he faces opposition from fiscal hawks inside the Republican party, who insist that any cuts must be paid for and not add to the roughly $350 billion deficit.