WASHINGTON (AP) In full salesman mode, President Donald Trump promised “historic tax relief to the American people” on Wednesday as he tried to build momentum behind his plan to overhaul the nation’s tax code and revive his moribund legislative agenda in Congress.
Hours after the White House and congressional Republicans released a framework for making sweeping changes to the tax system, the president told hundreds of supporters at the Indiana State Fairgrounds the plan was “a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”
“This is a revolutionary change and the biggest winners will be everyday American workers as jobs start pouring into our country as companies start competing for American labor,” he said.
Passing the tax plan has become critical for a president desperate for a win.
The first year of his administration has been stymied by internal chaos and stinging defeats in his attempt to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law. Short of votes, Senate Republicans announced Tuesday that they would not vote on the latest health care proposal.
Hours later, Trump watched as Sen. Luther Strange, his preferred candidate in an Alabama GOP Senate runoff, was soundly defeated by conservative Roy Moore.
The tax plan seeks to slash the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and create three individual tax brackets with rates of 12 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent, with a recommended surcharge on the very wealthy. Trump also wants to simplify the tax code to allow the majority of Americans to file on a single sheet of paper.
Trump arrived in Indiana aboard Air Force One with Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, who is among the most endangered Senate Democrats facing re-election in 2018. Donnelly has expressed openness to the tax overhaul, citing the need for it to reward companies that keep jobs in the U.S. and penalize those engaging in offshoring.
Trump issued a warning shot to Donnelly from the stage: Support the tax overhaul or I’ll campaign against you next year.
“If Senator Donnelly doesn’t approve it – because you know he’s on the other side – we will come here and we will campaign against him like you wouldn’t believe,” Trump said. Still, he predicted that “numerous Democrats” would come across the aisle to support the plan because “it’s the right thing to do.”
The president has made similar overtures to Democratic senators like Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota in recent weeks. All three are facing re-election in 2018.