Reeling from three failed attempts to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, Republicans are looking to score a political win before the year’s end with an issue they hope will be more unifying for the party: tax reform.
President Trump hit the road in Indiana Wednesday to promote the framework of his tax plan, while Republicans back in Washington talked it up as well. With many details and legislative language still to fill in, they are touting what they say is a simpler, fairer tax code geared toward the middle class and designed to make American businesses more competitive globally.
Notably, Mr. Trump is taking a different approach than he did on health care. The White House has tried to bridge differences between the GOP’s warring factions in advance of the rollout. And Trump has been reaching out to – and pressuring – Democrats, hoping at least some of them will come on board.
In Indiana, the president characterized the plan as a “miracle for the middle class, for the working person” as Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat up for reelection, looked on. Trump said he expected “numerous” Democrats to come on board. If Senator Donnelly doesn’t approve it, “we will come here, we will campaign against him like you wouldn’t believe,” he said, breaking into a big grin and waving his arm in a kind of “just kidding” (though not) gesture.
EASIER SELL THAN HEALTH CARE
None of this guarantees an easy road to passage. But there are reasons to believe that a tax package could succeed where the various Obamacare repeal attempts failed. Politically, it is much easier for lawmakers to hand voters a tax cut than to potentially take away their health-care coverage. And while taxes certainly affect people directly, the issue doesn’t have the same raw emotional resonance as health care.
“No one can claim that somebody is going to die as a result of tax reform,” says Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R) of Florida, who is on the House Ways and Means tax writing committee.
That said, success is far from guaranteed.
Looming over everything are the details still to be worked out, and the question of how to pay for the estimated $5.8 trillion in tax cuts, which is no small matter. The plan would reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three – 12, 25, and 35 percent – and doubles the standard deduction for individuals. No income levels have been set for the brackets, which might eventually include a…