Sen. John Thune, one of six senators who attended a dinner at the White House with President Donald Trump Tuesday night, said the president made it clear, while talking about the blueprint of his tax reform proposal, that the measure has to be about middle income taxpayers.
“They’re going to put a blueprint in and out a couple weeks,” the South Dakota Republican told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. “The president made it very clear this has to be about middle income taxpayers . . . the bill [Trump] wants to sign into law has to be about cutting taxes for middle income families in the country.”
The Trump administration, he continued, has been giving a great deal of thought to the tax code’s various provisions, including the individual and business sides.
“We all know we have to be more competitive in the global marketplace,” Thune said. “In order to do that, we have to get our tax rate to where it is competitive.”
Thune was joined at the dinner by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa.; and moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly, Indiana; Heidi Heitkamp, North Dakota; and Joe Manchin, West Virginia.
Thune said he believes Trump is very interested, considering the experience with healthcare legislation, in working with Democrats on the measure.
“I think part of the purpose [of the dinner] was to hear out Democrats, what kind of a tax reform bill could they support,” Thune said. He added that he believes if the Trump administration can’t bet Democrats on board, they may have to fall back and use reconciliation to they can’t get Democrats they have to fall back and use reconciliation. So you to be prepared either way.”
Thune said he believes Trump is very versed in discussing the nation’s tax code, as he understands it from the business side.
“He has people around him, others who really want to get this done,” Thune said. “He still wants a result on healthcare as well, and we covered that ground a little bit as well.”
Thune also said that while Trump has been critical of several senators following the failure to repeal Obamacare this year, it’s important for the president to realize that he needs Republican support in Congress.
“I credit him for reaching out to Democrats,” Thune said. “In the end, we have to deliver the votes to get his agenda through. Even though there are things in the past that individual colleagues here, things that have been said, that stuff I think is all water under the bridge.”
The senator, also appearing on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” program Wednesday, said he believes most Democrats, when speaking about tax reform, want to see more revenue, “so they can spend it.”
“We’re going to find the Democrats who are actually interested in tax reform that generates economic growth,” Thune said. “We’ve been growing at 1.5 percent for the past eight years, the office says 2 percent for the next ten years. We want higher than 2 percent because that’s what generates the better jobs for people in this country.”
The Democrats at the dinner were people who did not sign a letter that the other 45 members of their party did against supporting tax reform that lowers rates on high-income individuals, Thune said.
“These are the Democrats that are probably most likely to be somebody that in the end could end up voting for a tax reform bill,” Thune said. “That’s why the president’s reaching out to them, and I give him credit for doing that.We need to see what the Democrats will support for ultimately a tax cut bill.”