Trump pushes tax cuts, hopes he isn’t ‘disappointed’ by Congress

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — President Trump on Wednesday called on Congress to pass sweeping tax cuts he said would unleash the economy and lead to higher wages for all Americans, leaning hard into conservative economic theories as he tries to revive his domestic agenda.

Trump, speaking at a manufacturing company in Springfield, Mo., provided few details of what the tax plan should look like, saying simply that he wants to cut taxes for companies and families and encourage firms to move operations back to the United States from places like China.

Unlike at his boisterous rallies, Trump rarely strayed from carefully worded remarks. White House officials hope the speech will energize GOP lawmakers to push a tax cut plan into law.


Within minutes of its conclusion, numerous Cabinet agencies, including State and Interior, issued statements claiming Trump’s tax outline would benefit virtually every corner of the economy. Trump plans to meet with GOP leaders on Tuesday to press them to move quickly.

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While Trump’s event was short on specifics and largely overshadowed by continuing coverage of Hurricane Harvey, it signaled a shift in his strategy for advancing his priorities on Capitol Hill.

During the failed push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Trump seemed disinterested in fully utilizing the bully pulpit provided by his office. He frequently spoke about what he saw as the ‘‘disaster’’ of Obamacare but did little to make an affirmative case for why it should be replaced with unpopular Republican-drafted legislation.

On tax reform, the White House is planning a series of pitches by Trump himself, building on his remarks Wednesday.

While the White House seems to be working more closely with congressional GOP leaders on tax legislation than during the health care debate, signs of potential tensions were evident Wednesday with Trump leaving little doubt where he would place blame if this effort also fails.


‘‘I am fully committed to working with Congress to get this job done. And I don’t want to be disappointed by Congress, do you understand me?’’ he said. ‘‘Do you understand? Understand? Congress. I think Congress is going to make a comeback. I hope so.’’

The White House is also looking to win the support of moderate Democratic senators facing tough reelection fights next year, believing it will be more difficult for them to vote against tax legislation than it was for them to reject Republican attempts to scrap the Affordable Care Act.

To further that effort, Trump brought a hammer rather than an olive branch to Wednesday’s event, saying there could be political consequences for Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, who is up for reelection next November, if she doesn’t support the bill.

‘‘She must do this for you, and if she doesn’t do it for you, you have to vote her out of office,’’ Trump said.

The speech Wednesday outlined broad principles but did little to advance the debate over the specifics of what the tax plan should look like. Trump even seemed to waver on one of the few specific tax ideas he has advanced, saying that ‘‘ideally’’ the corporate tax rate would be lowered from 35 percent to 15 percent as he has previously proposed. Many GOP aides on Capitol Hill believe it will be difficult to get the rate below 20 percent.


Trump closely followed the economic vision many Republicans have tried to advance for years — namely that cutting corporate taxes will lead companies to pay workers higher wages, spur those workers to spend more money, and help grow the economy.

But budget analysts have found a large portion of the benefits from what Trump has outlined would be enjoyed by the wealthiest Americans. The Tax Policy Center estimates that 40 percent of the tax cuts would go toward the top 1 percent of US earners, or those who make more than $732,000 a year.

On the corporate tax cuts, Trump echoed an argument that members of both political parties have made for years, saying that the 35 percent rate must be brought down. Obama proposed lowering it to 28 percent and House Republicans have proposed bringing it down to 20 percent.