White House suggests tax reform requires Dems to help

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The White House, on Tuesday, continued to send a powerful message to GOP leadership in Congress, with legislative affairs director Marc Short saying more cooperation with Democrats on tax reform is in the works.

Short-cited Republican failures to uphold campaign promises is the basis for the White House’s new, more inclusive legislative track.

“We learned this summer that keeping 50 or 52 Republicans is not something that’s reliable,” Short said at a roundtable hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “Despite promises and commitments they’ve made to the American voters since 2010, we don’t feel like we can assume we can get tax reform done strictly on a partisan basis, so it would be wise for us… to try and reach out and earn the support from Democrats, as well.”

Eager to make its mark in the legislative arena, and coming off a frustrating inability to do so with health care, the Trump administration is hell bent on passing tax reform with the help of one party or another.

If the Democrats were to sit down with the Trump team and begin to hammer out a bill, it would take a lot of pride-swallowing on both sides. The tax proposals Trump has voiced go against many Democratic tenants, calling for restrictions on multinational corporations, a sector Trump has vowed to liberate from stifling rates.

“The feedback we’ve received from many Democrats is an interest — they recognize corporate rates are too high and they recognize the corporate tax system is unfair and is causing companies to leave our shores, so there’s an opportunity to partner there,” Short said.

But Trump certainly has the ear of center-left congressional Dems fighting for reelection in states he won. He will sit down for dinner Tuesday night with Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.). Republican Sens. John Thune (S.D.) and Pat Toomey (Penn.) will also be in attendance.

The legislative team is on its game, looking to get a proposal on paper in the coming days.

“This is our window to get this done,” Short said.

Whipping the 60 votes needed for a victory will also include dealing with the loose cannon freedom caucus, a group whose relationship with the president Short says is better than has been reported.

“We’re pretty well in touch with that caucus and will continue to work with them closely,” Short said. “I don’t think there’s a worry we’re leaving them behind.”

Republican leadership has also bristled at some of the details of Trump’s potential proposal, with House Speaker Paul Ryan saying Trump’s goal of cutting corporate tax rates to 15 percent is unrealistic and instead pushing for a cut to 20 percent.

“We’d love to have a bipartisan fix to get 60 votes,” Short said, although he acknowledged that “reconciliation will be the most likely path.”

“It doesn’t help ourselves to negotiate against ourselves,” Short said of Ryan. “We should aim for what we think is best while also understanding there is probably compromise to getting to the best deal. But we think what’s best for the American people is a 15 percent corporate rate right now.”

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