Monthly Archives: July 2017

White House, business groups start major push to cut taxes

By Damian Paletta

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is scheduled to deliver a speech about the Trump administration’s tax cut plans Monday. (Zach Gibson/Bloomberg News)

The White House and congressional Republicans — backed by business and conservative groups — are mustering forces to muscle through a large tax cut package later this year.

Trump administration officials hope to play a much more proactive role both in writing the legislation and in selling it to voters, following internal criticism that they ceded too much discretion to lawmakers who bungled passage of the health-care bills.

Republicans regard a large tax cut package as a central plank of their economic agenda, one that could touch all Americans, and they want to notch a big victory before the end of President Trump’s first year in office.

“The stakes really have been doubled now for tax reform,” said Steve Moore, who was a top economic adviser to Trump during the campaign. “They absolutely can’t lose. They can’t accept failure on that, or it will be a completely wasted first year of the presidency.”

But they face many hurdles and have yet to gel behind a strategy. There hasn’t been a major overhaul of the tax code in 31 years, and that one was done with bipartisan support. So far, Republicans are negotiating solely among themselves, and they hope to pass the changes without needing Democrats.

Some Democrats say that would be a mistake.

“You can see that it is a very difficult road for them in terms of the health-care bill,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), adding, “I believe that we have a lot to contribute to forming and developing a tax reform bill on a bipartisan basis.”

Complicating the Republican effort further is the fact that no member of the White House’s senior economic team has been a part of a major tax overhaul bill, and …read more


Mark this date: Donald Trump is now a lame-duck president

By Steven Pearlstein

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who had been home recuperating after a brain cancer diagnosis, returned to Washington for a vote to defeat the third and final attempt to repeal Obamacare. (Handout via Reuters)

Remember this day, July 28, 2017: The day Donald Trump became a lame duck president. More significantly, the day the tea party revolution ended and Washington began the return to “regular order.”

The coup de grâce came at 1:30 a.m. on the Senate floor as John McCain became the third Republican to break ranks and defeat the third attempt to repeal Obamacare, which embodied the Democrats’ promise that all Americans could — and should — have health insurance at a price they could afford. It was, as tea party Republicans had warned, another expensive government entitlement that, once granted, could never be taken away. Now McCain had acknowledged that political reality.

[The GOP cannot fix itself — let alone health care]

Although it appeared to fall short by a single vote in the Senate, that was always going to be the margin of defeat for the seven-year effort to repeal Obamacare that had become the centerpiece of the tea party revolt. There were as many as 10 Republicans who had acknowledged that the proposal cobbled together at the last minute by the Republican leadership was so bad that, earlier in the day, they had demanded assurances from the House of Representatives that it would never become law.

It was left to McCain, however, to do the deed so the others could protect themselves from the retribution of party leaders or the wrath of party tea party voters in the next Republican primary. Having just been diagnosed with brain cancer, the senior senator from Arizona had achieved that state of political liberation …read more