Working with Republicans in Congress has proved fruitless for President Donald Trump’s agenda. In the wake of multiple failures, it seems the White House is turning to Democrats for help.
A report in Politico reveals that a few dozen House Democrats are quietly being recruited to address tax reform. The president is so desperate to have a “win” that the White House wants to avoid what happened with Obamacare at all costs.
White House officials have reached out to 15 to 20 centrist House Democrats since the early summer to find a middle path on tax reform. The members of the Blue Dog Coalition met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, chief economic adviser Gary Cohn and top White House staff, all while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was promising the bill would be a partisan one.
“We’d prefer bipartisan support for the tax plan,” said White House director of legislative affairs Marc Short. “We still think we can earn the support of [Democrats] on the tax package.” Short acknowledged, however, that Republicans “will choose the path that they want.”
Short and his staff are speaking mostly to Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.
“I think there are a lot of practical folks in the House, Senate and the administration who are looking at health care and saying, ‘That didn’t work. Maybe we should have a backup Plan B — a coalition of Democrats and Republicans,’” said Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY).
While they’ve focused primarily on House Democrats, they intend to reach out soon to members of the Senate.
“The door is open, and this should be a bipartisan issue,” Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) told Politico. “I hope they consider us.”
Trump notoriously attacked Democrats for not participating in the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, but the White House and GOP leadership never reached out to Democrats. The Democratic leadership, by contrast, was reluctant to “repeal and replace” and advocated instead to fix the law.
The centrist Democrats are hoping to lower corporate tax rate for small businesses, according to Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL). On the Senate side, there were three out of 48 Democrats who refused to sign a letter opposing tax cuts that weren’t deficit neutral. Other Democrats are hoping to dissuade the GOP leadership from using the reconciliation move to force their agenda.
“I’ve heard lots of my Republican colleagues say consistently that, after the health care experience, they’d like to see us try to work bipartisan on tax reform,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). He doesn’t see the GOP winning any Democratic votes using the fast-track process.
Some at the White House and in Congress anticipate the GOP tax bill will end splitting the party between the tea party wing and establishment Republicans. If it does, they’ll need the Democratic votes to get it over the finish line.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is hanging his hopes on red state Democrats up for reelection in 2018. “Nothing in the rules requires reconciliation to be partisan,” he told Politico.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) is one of those the GOP is targeting, but he calls the claim that the GOP is open to talking to Democrats “so much crap.”
“He did the same thing with health care,” Tester told Politico. “We offered to help and he said, ‘No, I’m going to run it down your throat.’ He’s going to do the same thing with taxes, and it’s bad public policy when you don’t bring people together to have a debate.”