Back in July, two weeks before John McCain killed Obamacare repeal with a Caesar-esque thumbs down, Donald Trump predicted that passing tax reform would be a piece of cake. “I think after health care, taxes are gonna be so easy,” Trump told The 700 Club’s Pat Robertson. “Health care is very hard. Health care’s hard because you’ll do something a little bit this way, and you’ll pick up that final vote, and you lose four votes over here.” As Trump has learned again and again over the last nine months, health care is hard! But he may be learning that tax reform is as well—and he and his economic advisers are doing themselves no favors.
For starters, Trump is reportedly not that happy with the initial framework, largely because it violates his Art of the Deal principle of always asking for something ridiculous and impossible at the beginning of a negotiation. According to Axios, “Trump wanted to propose an even lower corporate rate. It’s The Art of the Deal: Don’t open the bidding with the number you ultimately want—20 percent (the figure announced yesterday), down from 35 percent. Open with an extreme bid and work back. Trump wanted to propose 15 percent.” That’s very silly. It also, at this point, should be the last of his worries.
The optics of tax reform are obviously bad: Donald Trump and his plutocratic cabinet are giving themselves a huge tax cut, while also proposing raising the bottom rate from 10 to 12 percent. That is not a good look at all, and on Thursday morning economic adviser and extremely rich person who stands to benefit enormously from this bad tax plan Gary Cohn made things even worse.
COHN: “George, there’s an exception to every rule.”
STEPHANOPOULOS: “So that’s a yes.”
COHN: “Look, I can’t guarantee anything. You could always find a unique family somewhere.”
In the same interview Cohn also made the bogus claim that the cuts would pay for themselves through economic growth, which never happens.
Trump is trying to sell his tax cut plan as an everybody wins plan. But his advisers aren’t sticking to the script and are admitting what’s obvious, which is that the plan is designed to put money in the pockets of the ultra-rich.