WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump has delivered a series of speeches promoting the Republican tax reform agenda and a series of tweets undercutting it.
Trump’s speeches focus on how the his party’s tax plan, which has only been sketched in broad outlines, would cut business taxes in a way that would ultimately help working families.
In an effort to replace some of the missing revenue from that corporate tax cut, however, Republicans want to do away with a number of expensive tax breaks that help middle-class families, ostensibly while still delivering the middle class a net benefit.
On Monday, apparently in response to Democrats warning that Republicans might restrict a tax break on retirement savings, Trump said the proposal was off the table.
“There will be NO change to your 401(k),” Trump tweeted. “This has always been a great and popular middle-class tax break that works, and it stays!”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has feuded with Trump lately, complained about the president “taking things off the table” during a TV interview on Tuesday.
“Tax writing committees in the Senate and the House are going to be laying out the $4 trillion in loophole closings that need to take place,” Corker said. “Hopefully the White House will step aside and let that occur in a normal process.”
Trump’s “normal process” includes responding to every insult, and that’s what he did after seeing Corker’s interview:
He also tweeted that Corker, who recently announced he wouldn’t seek a third term next year, “couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee.”
A similar pattern played out earlier this year when Republicans tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act. After the House passed a plan to repeal Obamacare that Trump initially hailed, he later characterized some of its details as “mean.” The repeal effort ultimately failed.
Trump is visiting the Senate on Tuesday to talk tax reform over lunch with the Republican caucus. Corker said Trump’s visit is superficial.
“I think it’s fine for him to come over,” Corker said. “I look at these things as more of a photo op. They’re not really about substance.”
Corker has previously criticized the tax plan for being projected to add more than $1 trillion to the federal budget deficit. Still, he did not a oppose a recent budget vote that will pave the way for the tax reform push to proceed in the Senate without Democrats being able to block it.
An analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found that the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans would reap 79 percent of the benefits of the plan over 10 years.