White House targets red-state Democrats for help with tax reform

Elias Hubbard
August 2, 2017

"It works better if we work together".

President Trump and congressional Republicans may forgo trying to pass tax legislation in the Senate with the narrowest possible GOP majority, instead looking for politically nervous Democrats as potential allies, a senior White House official said Monday. "After a heated few weeks in the Senate, I know both sides crave a return to bipartisanship and regular order, and for this committee that would mean tax reform is likely on the horizon", he said.

"Any tax reform effort should not benefit the wealthiest individuals, who have already seen outsized benefits from recent economic gains", said the letter, authored by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and others and provided to the media.

Reconciliation remains a complex legislative option, but it failed to help Republicans with health care proposals that did not attract simple GOP majorities in the Senate this month, after the House passed its own version in May.

"We have been informed by the majority of the Democrats in a letter I just received today that most of the principles that would get the country rolling again, they're not interested in addressing", McConnell said.

Republicans controlling Congress are gearing up to advance their tax measure this fall, promising to lower rates on businesses and individuals, while clearing out many tax breaks and deductions. They also want to reduce corporate taxes, which they say will provide incentives for job creation and investment.

Democrats plan to unify around a series of policy demands that they say will be appealing enough to keep the entire party in line, according to interviews with Democratic aides and senators.

However, Republicans want to pass tax reform by the end of the year. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees tax reform.

If Republicans pried away that many Democrats in tight races, theoretically they could try to come up with 60 votes needed to break a filibuster under Senate rules.

"I would like to see us at least attempt to work with the Democrats to see if there are any of them ... who are willing to work with us on tax reform that we think truly is pro-growth", Thune told reporters.

The reconciliation technique, which depends on passing a fiscal 2018 budget and is laden with rules and protocols that Short likened to "threading a needle", could be bypassed if eight Senate Democrats facing tough re-election bids next year made a decision to join their Republican colleagues to cut individual and corporate tax rates and eliminate what Mnuchin described as "huge" deductions. Its sister group, Freedom Partners, has called out West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of IN and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

The letter comes amid a concerted push by Republicans to mobilize support for their plan to pursue a large tax overhaul package this year, with Trump pressing Cabinet members about the goals in the morning and three top advisers mapping out the road ahead later in the day.

Schumer insisted on Tuesday that bipartisanship is necessary. "We're urging our Republican colleagues not to go it alone but to work with us".

One is that changes should not increase tax burdens on the middle class while benefiting the wealthiest Americans.

Republicans say that the committees will write the legislation over the next month and hold hearings in September where Democrats can offer amendments and vote throughout the process.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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