WH Releases Major Tax Plan, Says ‘Lots And Lots Of Details’ On The Way

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, joined by National Economic Director Gary Cohn, speaks in the briefing room of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. President Donald Trump is proposing dramatically reducing the taxes paid by corporations big and small in an overhaul his administration says will spur economic growth and bring jobs and prosperity to the middle class. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Carolyn Kaster/AP

Two top Trump administration officials announced a number of gigantic proposed tax cuts Wednesday, but did not go into detail about the White House’s plans for working with Congress to bring the ambitious proposal to fruition.

One of the officials, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, also said that President Donald Trump had “no intention” of releasing his tax returns, even though they would show how the President would be affected by the cuts. “I think the America population has plenty of information,” he said.

Mnuchin joined fellow Goldman Sachs alumnus Gary Cohn, now director of the National Economic Council, to announce the President’s ambitious but vague tax plan in a joint press conference, just under the administration’s 100-day wire. Mnuchin pledged at one point that economic growth and cutting deductions and loopholes would pay for what he described earlier in the day as “the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country.”

A single page handed out to reporters laid out the basics, with a significant political slant.

Yet, on any one of these points, Mnuchin and Cohn had few answers to reporters’ questions.

Mnuchin said that “we will make sure that there are rules in place” so that wealthy individuals did not exploit lower corporate tax rates to shield personal wealth, but he did not specify what they would be.

What rate would be charged on profit being repatriated into the United States from overseas? one reporter asked.

“We’re working with the House and Senate on that, Mnuchin said.

“You’re going into very micro details,” Cohn added, though the details in question would affect hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenue. “A very important one, we agree. Very important,” he admitted, after reporters protested the comment. 

Asked about the income definitions of the simplified brackets for individuals, Cohn said “we have outlines.”

“We have a broad brush view of where they’re going to be,” he continued. “We’re running an enormous amount of data on the proposals right now. 

“If you don’t replace some of the revenue with a border adjustment tax,” one reporter wondered, “how will you make up for the deficit caused by the reduction in the corporate tax rate? 

“Ok, well, again, today we’re putting out the core principles, which include rates, because we think that’s a very important part of the plan,” Mnuchin said. “We will be working very closely, as I said, with the House and the Senate to turn this into a bill that can be passed and the President can sign and there’s lots and lots of details that are going into how that will pay for itself.”

The broad basics, though, were clear: Slash the corporate rate to 15 percent. Repeal the estate and alternative minimum taxes. Double the standard deduction. 

How would the plan affect a median income family of four? one reporter asked toward the briefing’s end, lobbing a softball. “What does it mean for them?”

“It’s going to mean a tax cut,” Cohn said.

“How much?” the reporter asked.

“It’s going to mean a tax cut,” Cohn said again. “Look, look, you’re asking the same question we got asked over here. We will let you know the details at the appropriate moment. We’re in very robust discussions with the Senate, with the House leadership. They are progressing very quickly.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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