President Trump and congressional Republicans rolled out a sweeping tax overhaul proposal on Wednesday that won immediate praise from conservatives, uniting a party that had been divided over how to repeal ObamaCare.
Business groups and the far-right House Freedom Caucus both backed the GOP blueprint to slash business taxes and trim the number of individual tax rates as Republicans looked to quickly move on from another failure to repeal the health care law.
Trump and his congressional allies are salivating for a major legislative win after a year filled with losses and disappointments, most of them related to a failed effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Their new hope is tax reform, which on the surface at least offers plenty for Republicans to agree upon.
Trump, seeming more at ease discussing tax compared to health care, said the framework “represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reduce taxes, rebuild our economy and restore America’s competitive edge.”
The president stressed that the benefits would go to the middle class, not the wealthy, though Democrats disputed that assertion.
“I’m doing the right thing, and it’s not good for me, believe me,” Trump said at an event in Indiana to sell the plan.
“This is the right tax cut and this is the right time. Democrats and Republicans in Congress should come together finally to deliver this giant win for the American people and begin [a] middle-class miracle.”
The president traveled to Indiana with Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, who is facing a tough reelection race in a red state. He pressured the senator to back his efforts, threatening to campaign against him if he declined.
The nine-page plan calls for three individual tax rates of 12 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent, while expressing openness to an additional rate that’s higher than 35 percent. The top rate is currently 39.6 percent.
The framework also would lower the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and would cut the rate for “pass-through” businesses whose income is taxed through the individual code, to 25 percent. It would also nearly double the standard deduction and would repeal the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax.
The blueprint gives Republicans a chance to turn their attention away from their failed efforts to repeal ObamaCare, a defeat in the skirmish over the debt ceiling, where Democratic leaders struck a deal with President Trump, and lack of action on Trump’s border wall.
The document was widely praised by GOP lawmakers, including the leaders of the conservative Republican Study Committee and Freedom Caucus, two groups that can act as thorns in leadership’s side.
“They’ve made a much better start than health care,” said Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the Freedom Caucus.
Freedom Caucus members had wanted to see more tax details before voting on a budget resolution that will allow Republicans to pass a tax bill with only a simple majority in the Senate.
“President Trump has delivered a forward looking tax reform framework that will let hard working Americans keep more of their money, simplify our system, end carve outs for special interests, and will help make our businesses competitive abroad,” the group said.