WASHINGTON – President Trump will resume his push for tax cuts on Friday with an Oval Office meeting designed to highlight the manufacturing industry, including in the state of a vulnerable incumbent Democratic senator: Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Trump will host more than a dozen manufacturing industry employees and executives and issue a proclamation making Oct. 6 “National Manufacturing Day,” according to a White House statement provided to USA TODAY.
One key person who won't be there: Manchin.
Manchin can’t support the plan outlined last week by GOP congressional negotiators, said Manchin spokesman Jonathan Kott. The senator believes the proposed plan differs from the one Trump described during a dinner earlier this month with moderate Democrats and Republicans at the White House, he said. While Manchin believes the current plan benefits the wealthy more than the middle class, he wants to work with Trump on a deal and met with White House legislative affairs director Marc Short on Tuesday.
Last week, Trump unveiled a tax plan he wants Congress to pass before the end of the year. Yet the president has spent the last several days responding to major domestic crises, visiting Puerto Rico on Tuesday after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island and traveling to Las Vegas on Wednesday to visit survivors of the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Trump, who postponed an event originally planned in West Virginia this week, now aims to revive his push for tax cuts in the coming weeks.
The White House has made clear its strategy to advocate for tax cuts will be different than how it approached the effort to repeal and replace the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, which has stalled on Capitol Hill.
First, Trump is trying to keep the focus on how specific businesses and average Americans he believes would benefit from his plan.
At previous events he’s held to promote his tax plans, including in North Dakota and Indiana, he was accompanied by two other vulnerable Democrats: Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.
Democratic leaders are concerned that if Trump is able to convince any senator from their party to support the plan, it could increase his odds of getting the 50 votes needed to win Senate approval and deliver the GOP its first major legislative victory.
Yet Manchin is making clear that he wants Trump to deliver on the plan he previously described – that would help the middle class and does not include tax cuts for millionaires. On Wednesday, Manchin also met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., according to the aide.
Trump's strategy is to continue to showcase workers and executives from the states of Democrats he’s hoping will support whatever plan emerges in Congress.
Friday's Oval Office meeting will include over a dozen workers and officials from the manufacturing industry as well as National Association of Manufacturers President Jay Timmons. Among those the White House will seek to highlight are the chief executive as well as a few managers from a West Virginia small business called Warwood Tool.
A White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly said Trump is still planning a schedule of two events a week to sell the plan, even if he isn't always personally involved, as he seeks to keep the pressure on Congress.
While Trump announced the initial details of his plan in a speech last Wednesday, there are significant hurdles before there's a final GOP tax plan that can win any Democratic votes.
A draft plan released last week by GOP congressional negotiators would mean working poor people could owe no income tax, filing a return could get much simpler, and there would be a new credit for caring for elderly relatives.
The plan also cuts the top corporate tax rate dramatically and creates a new top rate for small businesses that is lower than the top rate for individuals.
Yet it also eliminates two taxes paid entirely by the rich, while taking away a deduction for state and local taxes that is used most heavily in some of the wealthiest and Democrat-dominated states.
One of the biggest sticking points is how much the plan will add to the deficit. Another test is whether Trump will try to do away with the estate tax, which many of the Democrats he’s courting consider a windfall for the very wealthy.