Earlier this month, Axios reported that White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon was mulling higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for substantial middle class tax cuts. It’s a populist idea. The publication added that if tax reform doesn’t get done this year, it would probably never happen. Moreover, the thought is that when Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, knows the effort is dead, he’ll make his way to the exit:
Steve Bannon is causing a stir inside the administration by pushing an idea that's anathema to most Republicans: raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans to pay for steep middle and working-class tax cuts. (Some officials who've heard Bannon's idea think it's crazy, but the President's chief strategist believes it's a potent populist idea.)
Bannon has told colleagues he wants the top income tax bracket to "have a 4 in front of it." (The top bracket is currently 39.6% for Americans who earn more than $418,400.)
Lobbyists who have met with Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin say they've been struck by how impatient the two appear:
Cohn has told associates that if tax reform doesn't get done this year, it's probably never going to happen.
Sources who know Cohn speculate that he'll leave the White House the instant he concludes tax reform is dead.
While Cohn and Mnuchin differ stylistically — Cohn is brash and physically imposing while Mnuchin is mild-mannered — sources who've been meeting with them say they share the same philosophy: Go big or go home.
The site added that there appears to be a shift in the notion that the tax cuts should be revenue neutral, adding that they may be comfortable with tax cuts that last over a quarter century that doesn’t involve balancing the budget. Axios also noted that the last time tax reform was accomplished was in 1986 under Reagan, but that was a two-year endeavor when the two parties were different and the GOP was stumbling over another health care reform, like they are now, bumbling their way to a final bill, which will almost certainly disappoint conservatives.
Now, The Intercept is reporting the same thing:
Top White House adviser Steve Bannon is pushing for tax reform to include a new 44 percent top marginal tax rate, hitting people who earn more than $5 million a year, with the revenue paying for tax cuts for the rest, according to three people who’ve spoken to him recently.
The top rate is now 39.6 percent and most Republicans have been planning to lower it significantly as part of tax reform. The plan Trump put out previously would have only three brackets, with the top one brought down to 35 percent.
Raising taxes on the very rich has been a rare policy that President Donald Trump has publicly espoused throughout much of his life. On Tuesday, he told the Wall Street Journal, “if there’s upward revision it’s going to be on high-income people.”
“I have wealthy friends that say to me, ‘I don’t mind paying more tax,’” he said. White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders was pressed on Trump’s comment at a televised briefing Wednesday, and said that further specifics of the plan would be released shortly, with an emphasis on tax cuts for the middle class.
Well, for one Hollywood liberal, Debra Messing, her resistance inner-self prompted her to take to social media, denouncing the proposed 44 percent tax rate as “disgusting.” That’s quite a stark difference from her April 20, 2016 tweet, where she said “I pay a s**tload of taxes. And I’m happy to.” It’s another case of Trump derangement syndrome.