President Donald Trump has scrapped the tax plan he campaigned on and is going back to the drawing board in a search for Republican consensus behind legislation to overhaul the U.S. tax system. Administration officials say it’s now unlikely that a tax overhaul will meet the August deadline set by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
White House aides say the goal is to cut tax rates sharply enough to improve the economic picture in depressed rural and industrial pockets of the country where many Trump voters live. But the administration so far has swatted down alternative ways for raising revenues, such as a carbon tax, to offset lower rates.
Trump, who brands himself as a deal-maker, has not said which trade-offs he might accept and he has remained noncommittal on the leading blueprint, from Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. Brady, R-Texas, has proposed a border adjustment system, which would eliminate corporate deductions on imports, to raise $1 trillion over 10 years that could fund lower corporate tax rates.
But that possibility has rankled retailers who say it would lead to higher prices and threaten millions of jobs, while some lawmakers have worried that the system would violate World Trade Organization rules. Brady has said he intends to amend the blueprint but has not spelled out how he would do so.
Other options are being shopped on Capitol Hill. One circulating this past week would change the House Republican plan to eliminate much of the payroll tax and cut corporate tax rates. This would require a new dedicated funding source for Social Security.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said that all of the trial balloons surfacing in public don’t represent the work that’s being done behind the scenes. “It’s not really what’s going on,” Portman said. “What’s going on is they’re working with on various ideas.”