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Trump Focuses on Tax Reform After Collapse of Health Care Overhaul Plan

  • VOA News

Tax professional and tax preparation firm owner Alicia Utley reaches for tax forms at the start of the tax season rush in her offices in Boulder, Colo., Jan. 14, 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump is turning his attention to tax reform following the collapse of the effort to repeal and replace the nation's health care plan.

"I would say that we will probably start going very, very strongly for the big tax cuts and tax reform. That will be next," Trump said at the White House Friday after Republicans withdrew legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

Republicans were forced to cancel a vote on the replacement bill in the House of Representatives because it did not have enough support.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on the federal budget, Feb. 22, 2017, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on the federal budget, Feb. 22, 2017, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington.

Tax cut for middle class

Earlier Friday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during an interview with the news site Axios said he has been overseeing the administration's tax reform bill for the past two months.

He said the bill would include proposals to cut individual and corporate taxes. "Our primary focus is a tax cut for the middle income (earners) and not at the top."

Mnuchin declined to say what corporate tax rate would be proposed, other than it will be "a lot lower" than the current rate of 35 percent.

He also didn't reveal whether the tax proposal would include a contentious border adjustment tax that is part of a House tax plan. The adjustment tax calls for a 20 percent tax on imports and Mnuchin acknowledged it has both positive and negative features.

Mnuchin said the president's tax plan would be introduced soon and hopes it will win congressional approval as early as August.

Spicer: Health Care Tackled First to 'Achieve Savings' for Tax Reform

Presidential spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters at the White House Friday an August deadline is an "ambitious one" but added it is a goal the administration "is going to try to stick to."

Health care rift

Failure to advance the replacement health care bill again exposed deep divisions within the Republican Party. The rift threatens other presidential agenda initiatives such as infrastructure revitalization and building a border wall.

The replacement bill, the American Health Care Act, fell victim to two competing groups of Republicans. Independent-minded grass roots conservatives, centered around the House Freedom Caucus, bickered with a group of moderates who tend to favor consensus over confrontation. The division cost the replacement bill a number of Republican votes and set the stage for potential legislative battles in the months ahead.

One such clash may be over a bill that funds federal operations. Congress must pass the measure by April 28 or face a government shutdown.

Congress will also begin debate in the coming months on whether to raise the U.S. debt ceiling.

Time running short

The time frame for the president to achieve legislative victories is narrow. Some lawmakers believe effective legislating is limited to the first 6½ months of a president's term, just before the arrival of the next election season.

Meanwhile, Obamacare remains the law of the land in the U.S., but not for long, according to Trump's Twitter post Saturday.

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