U.S. President Donald Trump is making a new push Wednesday for a tax overhaul, visiting the midwestern state of North Dakota to call for lower corporate and individual tax rates.
Trump is pressing Congress to approve tax reforms in the coming months, with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin predicting that changes can be completed by the end of the year.
But tax legislation is one of several complicated issues Congress is facing and Republican and Democratic lawmakers have sharply divergent ideas of how to change the country’s complex tax code.
Trump plans to meet with workers at an oil refinery in North Dakota, a largely rural state along the northern U.S. border with Canada. The White House said Trump would make the case that one of the country’s last major tax overhauls, in 1986, also occurred under a Republican president like Trump, Ronald Reagan, with support from Democratic lawmakers.
North Dakota Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp is traveling with the president on Air Force One to her state, and Trump is hoping she will join at least a handful of other Democrats to support a tax overhaul. With Trump’s national voter approval rates mired in the 30-percent range, Democratic lawmakers in Washington have shunned Trump’s legislative initiatives, mostly notably his efforts to dismantle national health care policies championed by former president Barack Obama.
Specific tax changes
Trump’s tax pitch is the second he has made in a week on trips to states he won in last year’s contentious election against Democrat Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. Secretary of State. But like his speech in Missouri last week, Trump is expected to steer clear of specific tax changes he wants.
Trump has continued to call for a national corporate tax rate cut from 35 to 15 percent, a figure most U.S. economists say is unreachable without adding a new tax of some sort to offset the lost revenue the government needs to operate.
As he prepared for the North Dakota trip, Trump again made the inaccurate claim the United States is “the highest taxed nation in the world.” Numerous studies of tax rates around the globe show that by various measures, U.S. taxation is relatively low compared to that in other developed countries.
The World Economic Forum said U.S. business taxes do not rate among the world’s top 27 countries, all of which have total rates above 50 percent. The top U.S. rate, including additional state corporate taxes, totals nearly 39 percent, but corporations often pay far less after deducting their business expenses.
Trump met with top Republican congressional leaders Tuesday about taxes, telling them, “If we’re going to keep momentum going and allow the economy to truly take off as it should, it is vital that we reduce crushing tax burden on our companies and on our workers.
“This is more than just tax reform. This is tax cutting,” Trump said. “We’re going to cut taxes, we’re going to reduce taxes, for people, for individuals, for middle income families. We’re going to reduce taxes for companies.”
Trump has feuded with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell in recent months over the Senate’s failure to overhaul U.S. health care policies.
But McConnell praised Trump’s commitment to the tax overhaul, saying he was “very engaged on this issue.”