Tax reform is to the USA what Brexit is to the UK: it’s really important and affects millions of lives, but it’s very technical and is (perhaps unfairly) considered to be very boring. The current system is increasingly outdated in many respects but change is never easy and pointing out the problems is easier than getting workable solutions. Personally, I find the idea that Trump genuinely wants to help ordinary people is dubious at best.
Donald Trump has been increasingly frustrated with the lack of achievements in office. He has yet to point to any new major legislation that his government passed. His attempts to repeal Obamacare have ended in failure and wasted valuable time. A major promise from Republicans has gone unfulfilled and the base is spitting nails, which might explain the victory of Roy Moore in Alabama. The recent victory of Moore is awkward for Trump while Robert Muller’s investigation into Russia interfering with the election is gathering momentum.
Despite a slight uptick in approval ratings and a willingness to do deals with the Democrats, led by “Chuck and Nancy” as Trump calls them, tensions over North Korea and his dismal response to Puerto Rico in contrast to his responses to Florida and Texas threatens to send the polls dipping down again.
Trump believes that his solution lies in tax reform and the lucrative promise of almost immediate economic gains although, given the lengthy technical details, the simpler narratives will be crucial to deciding the outcome. Trump is willing to admit that the plans will apparently hurt him economically but benefit him politically. He has already set a precedent for bipartisan actions which may appeal to Democrats looking for re-election in November.
That said, the templates and statements so far have failed to answer a pressing question: Where’s the money coming from? The lack of an answer or an answer that argues both sides looms heavily over the plans.
Republicans hope that a victory here will help mitigate the failures thus far and open the door for infrastructure spending further down the line. But time is not on their side. They have 40 days to figure out and vote on tax reform before both parties turn from legislation to the midterm elections. A new failure will be even more devastating than failing to repeal Obamacare. Once the midterm elections take center stage, Trump will find little opportunity for big wins and his failures will haunt him.
With each passing day, Trump gets more and more desperate and erratic. He knows he’s losing and he knows that he will have to shoulder some of the blame. The time for him to win is slipping away and his party hopes that this time, they can point to a big win and a major achievement. Any loss now will see Trump end the year with no major legislation, no major wins and a fractious, divided party tearing each other, and probably him, to pieces.
Trump should never be underestimated. He’s lasted longer than most expected and his unpredictable nature is as much a strength as it is a weakness. He’ll be pulling out all the stops and pushing hard to get his beloved tax reform pushed through. He has a better chance now than he had with Obamacare to woo Democrats and keep his party together, but it’ll be a close thing if he can’t provide more details on where all the money for the tax cuts are coming from.
Tax reform is needed and it can be done. Whether Trump is the man to do in 40 days remains to be seen.