On the day the Dow Jones Industrial Average sailed past the 23,000 mark for the first time, President Donald Trump made his pitch for tax reform to The Heritage Foundation, saying he needed tax cuts and a simpler tax code to keep the momentum going.
“You understand that lower taxes mean bigger paychecks, more jobs and stronger growth,” Trump told the crowd at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C. “We need the help of The Heritage Foundation and everyone here tonight to get our tax cuts through the House, through the Senate, and to my desk for signature.”
It was only the fourth time a president addressed the annual Heritage Foundation donors’ dinner, according to officials from the conservative think tank. But with the GOP majority in the Senate razor-thin, Trump is not taking conservatives for granted.
The president even sprinkled his speech with other pitches, including his efforts to get American companies to start saying “Merry Christmas” again.
“You go to department stores and they’ll say ‘Happy New Year,’ or they’ll say other things, and it’ll be red, they’ll have it painted,” Trump said. “But they don’t say. Well, guess what? We’re saying Merry Christmas again.”
The line brought loud applause from the conservative audience, which included former Attorney General Ed Meese and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).
Yet it was the red meat of taxes that brought out Trump’s eagerness to preach policy. Trump and the GOP congressional leadership were embarrassed twice over the summer when they tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
Tax reform is the next big legislative item, and the White House and the Republican congressional leaders see it as must-pass.
When asked why it’s important for the Republicans to meet a self-imposed deadline of January 1 for tax reform, which would include personal and business tax cuts, policy analyst Stephen Moore gave two reasons.
Republicans will get “wiped out” in the 2018 elections, said Moore, a Heritage distinguished visiting fellow at the Project for Economic Growth and the Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity.
And two, the run-up in the stock market, which has created $5 trillion in new value, could shrink, Moore told LifeZette before the speech. Much of the stock market “bull run” has been in anticipation of Republican economic policies, most especially tax reform, he said.
The GOP tax reform plan is said to be the biggest since former President Ronald Reagan’s bill in 1986. Tax bills since then have tended to focus on individual rates.
Trump wants to see rate cuts, but also wants simplification. The top corporate tax rate would be 20 percent, and the top rate for unincorporated small business would be 25 percent, he said. Personal brackets would be cut to three: 35 percent, 25 percent, and 12 percent, as well as a 0 percent rate.
The crowd cheered when Trump also said he wanted to cut the tax on inheritances, and bring back trillions of dollars parked overseas. He faulted past leaders for failing to negotiate a way to get assets back into the United States.
The president also lauded The Heritage Foundation for its policy work, and noted the foundation had worked with Reagan.
“Working closely with the Heritage Foundation, Ronald Reagan cut taxes to unleash the economic miracle of the 1980s,” Trump said.