President Trump on Monday said he would propose a tax cut for middle-class Americans next week “of about 10 percent” and that Congress would vote on it soon, but he offered few details and lawmakers did not appear to have any plans to act on his announcement.
Speaking to reporters before a trip to Texas, Trump said the White House was looking at putting out a proposal next week, which he said would be “a very major tax cut for middle-income people. And if we do that it’ll be sometime just prior to November.”
“We’ll do the vote after the election,” Trump said, again suggesting a cut after floating the idea on Saturday.
Aside from saying the tax cut would be about 10 percent, the president offered no details.
Republican legislative leaders, who would need to guide any tax cut through Congress, appeared caught off guard once again by Trump’s comments. Representatives of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) referred questions back to the White House.
At a rally in Texas Monday evening, Trump said he had been working on the new tax-cut plan for several months with Brady. Brady, however, has not mentioned anything about such a plan in public.
Legislation enacting such a cut has not been planned on Capitol Hill, and congressional Republicans were privately skeptical that a vote could happen during the post-election lame duck session, which might be dominated by a fight over Trump’s border wall.
Congress passed a massive tax-cut plan last year. The law’s biggest change permanently cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. It also reduced income tax rates at all levels, while changing the structure of many tax deductions. Nonpartisan analyses of the plan found that the law’s individual tax cuts overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy.
While the corporate reduction is permanent, the cuts for individuals and families would expire after seven years. Republicans drafted the law that way to limit its projected additions to the deficit, and they have said a future Congress will extend the individual cuts. House Republicans have approved a bill that would make those tax cuts permanent, but the Senate has not taken up the measure.
That bill is not the same as what Trump described on Monday, as the president said Congress would vote on an additional 10 percent tax break for the middle class beyond the cuts enacted in last year’s law.
Trump’s comments about a new tax cut come barely two weeks ahead of midterm elections that will decide control of Congress. With polls indicating that the existing tax law is unpopular, Republicans have largely abandoned plans to campaign on it and instead many of them are running attack ads against their opponents.
The president has been raising a variety of topics in recent days that could appeal to some voters, including angry denunciations of a migrant caravan and the new mention of a tax cut.
A spokeswoman for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said that the senator “welcomes efforts to build on tax reform’s success and will work with the administration and Finance Committee members about how to best proceed.”
Democrats dismissed Trump’s announcement.
On Twitter, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) said, “That middle class tax cut should have come first, not as an election eve promise. @realDonaldTrump & @HouseGOP had their chance on taxes. They chose to give $1.6 trillion to people on the top floor of every building while everyone else below got the bill.”