Conservative lawmakers and strategists are reportedly concerned the Trump administration’s chief tax architects will ignore conservative priorities in an effort to cut a swift and convenient deal with Democrats, Politico reports.
Much of the concern is due to the legislative inexperience, and former political allegiances, of White House economic adviser and registered Democrat Gary Cohn, and former Democratic donor, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
The pair, who are largely responsible for building the coalition required to pass tax reform this legislative session, have appealed to conservatives with their rhetoric. Despite the conciliatory language and weekly phone calls with Hill conservatives, concerns remain that, in the wake of Trump’s concession on the debt ceiling, the White House will once again maneuver around Republicans to appease the opposition.
“There better not be a curveball coming up” GOP Rep. Dave Brat of Virginia told Politico in reference to Cohn’s and Mnuchin’s work on tax reform. “We don’t want our president and his administration moving all over the place away from Republican principles.”
Should Congressional Republicans prove unable to come together on tax reform, as they failed to unite on Obamacare repeal, President Donald Trump may be tempted to concede to Democrats’ demands to secure his first major legislative accomplishment.
In addition to worries related to Trump’s recently demonstrated willingness to cross the aisle, there is speculation that, given their finance backgrounds, Mnuchin and Cohn’s may prioritize Wall Street interests over the broader tax reform goals of the conservative base.
“They are representing more of the Wall Street perspective than the general goals of tax policy that Republicans have rallied behind for the past several years,” a senior congressional aide told Politico.
Conservatives who hope to see significant reform that will spark substantial economic growth are worried Cohn and Mnuchin will sacrifice that goal in favor of a more standard tax cut for the rich.
“My big concern us that you’ll get a tax shift, not a tax cut, and that it will not have the effect on growth,” Adam Brandon, president of FreedomWorks told Politico. “At the end of the day, their bona fides will be judged by what this bill looks like. If this is a good tax bill, everyone will be a good friend to Republicans. This presidency rides on this bill.”
Trump has been very vocal in his calls for Republicans to move quickly on tax reform, but his recent appeals, and dinner invitations, to Democratic leadership suggest he recognizes the possibility that Republicans will be unable to force through reform despite their majority in both houses of congress.
Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short made this calculus clear in statements made during a White House roundtable Tuesday.
“We learned this summer that keeping 50 or 52 Republicans in the Senate is not something that’s reliable,” Short said, referring to the Senate’s failure to pass a significant replacement to the Affordable Care Act.
“Despite promises and commitments they’ve made to the American voters since 2010, we don’t feel like we can assume we can get tax reform done strictly on a partisan basis, so it would be wise for us … to try and reach out and earn the support from Democrats as well,” he concluded.
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