President Donald Trump reportedly will begin a major push next week to convince the public of the need for tax reform, shifting his focus to fiscal policy in a bid to win a big legislative victory by the end of the year.
Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, told the Financial Times in an interview that Trump would begin the tax reform push next Wednesday with a speech in Missouri, the first in a series of addresses to generate public support for tax reform.
“We are completely engaged in tax reform. Starting next week the president’s agenda and calendar is going to revolve around tax reform,” he told the FT.
Cohn said Trump will spend the next several weeks leading a public campaign in support of a tax overhaul while the White House leaves Republican lawmakers to hash out details of the plan,
“He will start being on the road making major addresses justifying the reasoning for tax reform and why we need it in the U.S.,” he said.
Trump will kick off the campaign next week with a visit to Missouri, according to an administration official familiar with the plans told Bloomberg. His trip Wednesday to the state’s southwestern city of Springfield is expected to be the first of several stops around the country in the coming weeks, said the official, who asked not to be identified because the details were still under review.
“At the end of the day, tax legislation has to happen in Congress and the House. The “big six” [a group of White House officials and leading congressional Republicans] have been meeting and have come up with an outline and skeleton and we have a good skeleton that we have agreed to," Cohn said.
"Now it is chairman [Kevin] Brady’s time to get the ways and means committee together to put flesh and bone on it and they will do it next week when the House comes back into session," Cohn said.
"The ways and means committee will be drafting legislation and we will be on the road and holding meetings in Washington and elsewhere explaining why it is so important to have tax reform in America.”
Cohn said he believes the legislation can be written and pass both houses of Congress by the end of the year.
“They have been holding hearings for years,” he said. “It’s not like they are just starting the process now.”
Trump is not expected to set forth his own plan or many specifics, the official said. Instead, Trump will advocate broad themes of middle-class tax cuts, simplifying the tax code and making businesses more competitive in a way that encourages job creation, the official said.
Republican congressional leaders have already said they don’t expect to release a joint tax plan with the White House. Instead, they’ll rely on House and Senate tax-writing committees to solve the big questions that remain unanswered, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The so-called Big Six -- made up of White House officials and congressional leaders involved in tax negotiations -- jointly released a two-page statement in July that outlined a broad set of agreed-upon tax principles. Specifics, including such basic matters as where to set the corporate tax rate and how to set up individual tax brackets, have yet to emerge.
While White House officials previously said Trump would spend much of August promoting the tax plan, the administration instead became engulfed with controversy after the president said there were “very fine people” on both sides of clashes in Charlottesville involving neo-Nazi groups and counter-protesters.
(Newsmax wires services Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report).
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