President Trump scrambled Friday to show progress on two leading priorities — health-care reform and tax cuts — ahead of his 100th day in office, even as he dismissed that marker as a “ridiculous standard” and suggested the media would judge him unfairly when he reaches it next week.
Trump told the Associated Press in an interview that he would release a tax package next week that would include reductions “bigger, I believe, than any tax cut ever.” He provided no specifics but said he would outline his plan “Wednesday or shortly thereafter.” He later sounded firmer about a Wednesday release during an event at the Treasury Department.
That's just three days ahead of Trump's 100th day in office, a standard by which presidents are often measured for their immediate impact. Trump is also pushing the House to quickly pass a revised version of a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, another Trump campaign promise that collapsed in stunning fashion last month.
Trump's announcement on tax cuts — which caught leading congressional Republicans by surprise — could create an incredibly busy and chaotic week ahead. Lawmakers are also seeking to finish negotiations by the end of the week on a short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown that would coincide with Trump's 100th day.
At the Treasury Department event, Trump suggested he has some flexibility on the timetable of his initiatives.
“No particular rush, but we’ll see what happens,” he told reporters, adding: “A lot of good things are happening.”
As he maneuvered to show progress, however, Trump also took to Twitter on Friday to question the yardstick by which he is being measured.
“No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, & it has been a lot (including S.C.), media will kill!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
The “S.C.” was apparently a reference to Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who was confirmed this month after the Senate changed its filibuster rules over fierce objections from Democrats.
While the Republican president has issued a flurry of executive orders seeking to change the direction on multiple Obama administration policies, he has no major wins on Capitol Hill beyond Gorsuch.
Toward the end of his presidential campaign, Trump embraced the 100-day marker he is now questioning. In a “Contract With the American Voter” issued by his campaign, Trump promised that, among other things, he would introduce and “fight for” 10 specific pieces of legislation in his first 100 days.
Those included bills to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, dramatically cut taxes, spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investments and significantly expand school choice.
The only one of those 10 legislative items introduced to this point is the House health-care bill.
As a candidate, Trump promised to cut the corporate tax rate and to cut income taxes for middle-class families.
He proposed cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, and Trump proposed consolidating the existing seven individual income-tax brackets into three brackets: 10, 20 and 25 percent.
At a briefing for reporters Friday, Trump's treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said that “the president wants to get health care done and he wants to get tax done. Hopefully we're going to get both done, but we're going to get tax done.”
Asked for a timeline on that, Mnuchin said: “As I said yesterday, soon.”
It remained unclear Friday afternoon how sweeping a plan Trump plans to unveil next week.
The fate of a deal to continue operations of the government also remained unclear Friday afternoon.
Republican congressional leaders have been negotiating with Democratic leaders to avoid a shutdown, but Trump is seeking to use the process to leverage several of his priorities.
“I think we’ve made it very clear that we want border wall funding, we want greater latitude to deny federal grants to sanctuary cities,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Friday. “We want hiring of immigration agents, and we want $30 billion to infuse the military budget. Those are our priorities.”
But Spicer suggested the administration has some flexibility and said he is confident there will not be a government shutdown.
Aware of Trump’s anemic output on Capitol Hill, aides have increasingly been touting his action on several foreign policy fronts and his use of executive actions, including one Thursday expediting an investigation into whether steel imports are jeopardizing U.S. national security.
Trump aides are also heavily promoting the president’s work with Republican lawmakers in an “unprecedented” way to make use of a little-known law called the Congressional Review Act.
The law allows Congress a limited window to repeal regulations put in place by the president’s administration. Trump and GOP lawmakers have now worked together to repeal more than a dozen such regulations issued in the waning days of the Obama administration. By contrast, Trump aides said, the law was used only once before by other presidents.
As the 100-day mark approaches, Trump’s top press aides have said they are planning several activities to promote his progress on issues including immigration, regulatory reform and job creation. They went through a similar, but more limited exercise, when Trump hit the 50-day mark of his presidency.
Abby Phillip contributed to this report.