In a move based on helping the GOP maintain its Congressional majorities in the 2018 midterms, President Trump has promised a new middle-class tax cut proposal in the weeks before election night. However, this seems to be the first that Republican tax-policy leaders have heard of it, as they were caught completely unaware by President Trump’s announcement.
At a rally in Nevada on Saturday, President Trump said, “We’re looking at a major tax cut for middle-income people,” and that House Speaker Paul Ryan, as well as other House Republicans such as Kevin Brady, were working on a new plan, according to the News-Times. “Not for business at all. For middle-income people.”
The midterm elections appear to be hotly contested, with recent polls showing Democrats having a substantial edge, projecting Democrats to take control of the House of Representatives and make gains in the Senate. Republicans had hoped that last year’s massive tax overhaul would have boosted their popularity, but it has been seen largely as a tax break for corporations and the wealthy and a key factor in a rising federal deficit. These issues have led the tax cuts to not be as popular as the GOP leadership had hoped.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, a key composer of the 2017 tax cuts, could offer no details of the plan other than to repeat the president’s assertions. A Republican tax lobbyist with ties to the party’s leadership (he asked not to be identified) said that he met with White House officials recently and came away from that meeting believing that no tax legislation of any kind was imminent. President Trump himself offered no details on the proposal, and the White House did not respond to repeated requests for details on the plan.
Even if Republican tax policy leaders could throw together a plan for middle-class tax cuts in the next couple of weeks, lawmakers will not return to Congress until after the election. It would likely be difficult to pass a new tax bill in a lame-duck session, especially if the House flips to the Democrats. No Democrats supported the 2017 tax cuts, and further cuts would possibly draw resistance from several Republican lawmakers, who could balk at the prospect of increasing the deficit.
Rob Damschen, a spokesman for Congressman Brady, said, “There is continued interest in building on the success of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and constantly improving the tax code for hardworking families and America’s small businesses.” When asked for clarification and details, Damschen referred all further questions to the White House.