Corker-Trump feud likely to kill tax reform

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President Donald Trump’s public feud with Republican Sen. Bob Corker, who is claiming that Trump’s threats to other countries could place the U.S. “on the path to World War III.” has the president’s allies concerned about how White House efforts to overhaul taxes could be affected.

With only a narrow majority in the Senate, Republican supporters of the tax overhaul effort worry that Trump’s decision to go on the attack against Corker could alienate other key lawmakers.

A lot hinges on Trump’s promised plan to significantly change the tax code because if he fails, he will likely be seen as an ineffective leader, unable to convince his own party to back his priorities, says one anonymous Trump ally who spoke to Bloomberg in a report published Tuesday.

One person close to the president, who required anonymity to give a candid assessment of the situation, told Bloomberg that the battle with Corker won’t help Trump win this legislative battle. Another Trump ally, who also asked for anonymity, predicted that the feud may turn out to be the end of the president’s tax bill.

The back-biting between Corker and Trump likely began in August, when the Tennessee senator, a former supporter of the president, told reporters Trump has “not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs” to be successful.

Over the weekend, Trump took to Twitter to call out Corker for his negativity and standing in the way of his agenda. He also claimed Corker had “begged” for an endorsement in a bid for re-election, but decided to drop out of the race and retire when Trump refused.

In response to the president’s tweets, Corker sent out a hard-hitting message of his own about Trump and his behavior.

Corker tweeted, “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

In a subsequent New York Times interview, Corker declined to say whether he believed Trump was fit for office and suggested that the president could push the U.S. into a third world war.

Seen as a crucial vote for tax legislation, Corker is a member of the Budget Committee and has said if the tax legislation adds even a penny to the deficit, “there is no way in hell I’m voting for it.” Since he plans to retire when his second term expires in 2018, he has little incentive to compromise.

The tax framework released late in September by the White House and GOP leaders would add $3.1 trillion to the deficit over a decade, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Unless they can draw Democratic votes, Republican leaders need 50 of their 52 senators to support a bill. Apart from Corker, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has criticized the tax framework, concerned that it could lead to tax increases for some middle-income taxpayers.

Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have called Corker constructive in the tax debate so far. They say they’re encouraged by his support for a budget resolution that the Senate will need to pass as a precursor to a tax bill.

One Democratic lawmaker said some Republicans are hesitant to publicly air their concerns about Trump’s behavior because they fear becoming a target.

“Many of them are concerned about being the victim of a tweet,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to MSNBC on Tuesday. “Others are concerned about having someone run against them from the right.”

A constant thorn in the president’s side, Arizona Sen. John McCain, who is being treated for brain cancer, has called for the tax bill to be subject to committee hearings and amendments and insisted it should get some support from Democrats in order to stand the test of time.

McCain made the same demands on health care, effectively killing his party’s bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He also voted against his party’s tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. And Sen. Susan Collins of Maine (R) has previously opposed provisions of the framework, such as repealing the estate tax.

Dennis Michael Lynch, CEO of DML News, says the Trump-Corker feud does the American people no good. “It’s not about them, it’s about us, and here we are in October and we have not one major bill put into law. The GOP wants Trump to lose, Trump wants Trump to win, and we’re still paying high Obamacare premiums, our taxes are insanely high, and the illegal aliens remain laughing outside of Home Depot.  Time is ticking.  This once in a lifetime opportunity is on the cusp of being handed back to the Democrats,” said DML.

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