Trump denies that he started talking about a mysterious new tax cut because the original Republican tax law is unpopular

US President Donald Trump Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • President Donald Trump surprised everyone when he started talking about a new 10% tax cut for the middle class on Saturday.
  • Some analysts suggested Trump’s out-of-left-field announcement was designed to drum up support for Republican candidates before the midterm elections, since the original GOP tax reform law is unpopular.
  • Trump denied that the new tax-cut proposal, which has little chance of passing anytime soon, was in response to negative perceptions of the first tax law.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday disputed suggestions that a surprise new tax cut announcement was designed to combat negative perceptions about the original GOP tax reform law.

Trump floated the idea of another 10% tax cut for middle-class earners during a trip to Nevada on Saturday. The suggestion blindsided GOP leaders, administration officials, and just about everyone else in Washington, DC, as no such cut was planned.

Some pundits surmised that Trump’s out-of-left-field tax suggestion was an implicit admission that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or TCJA, the newly implemented GOP tax law, was not proving to be the political winner that Trump had once hoped.

To that end, Trump was asked during an Oval Office bill signing on Tuesday whether the new tax idea was floated because the benefits from the TCJA, which was passed with exclusively Republican votes in December, were tilted too heavily toward corporations.

“No, it really wasn’t,” Trump said. “It’s been great. The tax cut that we had, even if you look estate taxes and what it’s done for the small farmers and small businesses, if you look at the past – I’m talking about the one that was passed, we’re very proud of it.”

The GOP tax law remains unpopular, and most Americans believe the law benefits corporations and wealthier earners more than the middle class. Republican candidates are by and large no longer running ads about the TCJA and are instead focusing on other issues in the lead-up to the midterms.

Trump attempted to flesh out some of the details of his new proposal on Tuesday, saying any tax cut would be “net neutral,” an apparent reference to the massive amount of federal debt that the TCJA is projected to add over the next 10 years.

The new proposal would also not address the corporate side of taxes at all, Trump said.

“It’s going to be a tax reduction of 10% for the middle class,” Trump said. “Business will not enter into it. And this will be on top of the tax reduction that the middle class has already gotten.”

GOP Rep. Kevin Brady, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and a key architect of the TCJA, also offered a clarifying statement on the proposal Tuesday.

“We will continue to work with the White House and Treasury over the coming weeks to develop an additional 10% tax cut focused specifically on middle-class families and workers, to be advanced as Republicans retain the House and Senate,” Brady said.