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The Trump administration is planning a much more assertive role in undertaking a broad overhaul of the tax code than it did during the failed effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, with some advisers working to craft a concrete blueprint for specific changes instead of letting Congress dictate details.
But there are divisions with congressional Republicans and within the administration over who should be in charge of the effort — and how ambitious it should be, say administration officials and congressional aides.
Some GOP allies say they have already produced tax legislation and that it would not make sense for the White House to produce its own. Key division points could be about whether to seek a broad overhaul of the tax code or whether to limit it to more specific provisions — such as those affecting corporations — and whether such an initiative could increase the deficit without offsetting spending cuts or changes to tax policy. Also highly controversial is a proposal to impose a new tax affecting imports.
Within the administration, meanwhile, there are open questions about who will lead the charge on tax policy. The Treasury Department has close to 100 people working on the issue, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has signaled to lawmakers that he will be a point person in any negotiations. At the same time, some legislators say National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn has also emerged as a powerful force within the White House for overseeing economic policy and that he could attempt to take the reins of what is likely to be the administration’s most important policy issue going forward.
“We have so much in common with the Trump administration,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) said Sunday on Fox News. “It wouldn’t make sense to have a separate tax bill from Secretary Mnuchin, a separate tax bill from Gary Cohn, a third from whomever.”
There will be several key tests of the White House’s new approach. Congress must vote by April 28 to authorize new funding for federal agencies or face a partial government shutdown. If the Trump administration allows Congress to negotiate spending levels on its own, there could be another split between GOP centrists and conservatives. Another legislative setback could weaken the White House’s hand even further and embolden Democrats during the tax discussions.
BIO: Bryan Crabtree is the live afternoon host on Atlanta’s Biz 1190 from 4-6 pm weekdays and airing again on AM 920 The Answer from 9-11 pm. His real estate show with his wife, Mackenzie Crabtree can be heard on Saturday at 9 am on AM 920 The Answer and Noon on Sunday on Biz 1190. Additionally, his Crabtree Chronicle (focusing on local Atlanta issues) is heard throughout the day on AM 920 The Answer.