Breaking News Emails
While congressional Republicans are left reeling from a major loss on health care, President Donald Trump says he is ready to move on.
"Now we're going to go for tax reform — which I've always liked," he told reporters Friday afternoon.
After the health care failure, Trump had expressed disappointment and surprise to reporters in the Oval Office that the long-promised GOP overhaul of the Affordable Care Act failed, but he brightened up when asked by reporters what was next.
Trump has made no secret of his passion for tax reform. Publicly, he has yearned for the chance to tackle tax and trade issues. While he was supposed to be pushing health care at a rally last week in Nashville, Tennessee, the president revealed that was already looking forward.
"I want to cut the hell out of taxes," Trump told cheering crowds in Nashville. "But, but before I can do that — I would've loved to have put it first, I'll be honest — there's one more very important thing that we have to do. And we are going to repeal and replace horrible, disastrous Obamacare."
Health care reform, had it been accomplished, would have maximized tax reform measures on both the corporate front and for the middle class, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Friday.
Sources told NBC News that Trump wanted to tackle tax reform first but was steered toward health care by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and Vice President Mike Pence.
"He's got a lot left on the agenda that he wants to get done," Spicer said Friday. "Whether it's immigration, taxes, the border wall."
A senior administration official told NBC that in wake of setback on health care, it's tax reform next as Trump's top priority in Congress.
In fact, some members of the administration were already laying the groundwork even before the health care bill was pronounced dead.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday morning that he'd push for comprehensive tax reform by this summer. Speaking at an Axios event in Washington, D.C., he said the plan would include both personal and corporate tax reform.
New details and specifics on the plan have been vague since Trump took office, but he has said he hopes to cut the corporate tax rate from 40 percent to 15 persent or 20 percent. "It has to go down," Trump told Fox News' Tucker Carlson last week.
"First of all, it's going to go way down for the middle class," the president said. "It's going to go way down for business. I'm going to try and get the 15 percent level if we can for the business. I think we'll probably be a little bit higher than that, but we're going to try and get the 15 percent level."
On personal rates, Trump has promised to simplify the tax code, decreasing the number of tax brackets from seven to three: 12 percent, 25 percent and 33 percent. Trump's plan falls in line with that of Ryan, who said Friday that the Republican loss on health care makes tax reform more difficult but still doable.
Some, like former conservative radio host Charlie Sykes, see the White House heading into its next legislative hobbled by a foiled gamble on health care. Sykes told NBC News on Friday that the health care loss "casts real doubt on the entire domestic agenda and their ability to get things done."
As if he were anticipating the naysayers, Spicer put distance between the health care issue and the rest of Trump's agenda.
"I don't think you tie any of these together," he said, saying there was a "huge appetite for tax reform."
Beyond tax reform, Trump has signaled that he wants to pursue a trillion dollar infrastructure plan and renegotiate trade deals, like the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Democrats have signaled a willingness to work with Trump on an infrastructure bill, although some Republicans aren't enthusiastic about a massive spending plan.
And knowing whom to work with in the future is one of the key takeaways from a White House chastened by the broken promise of health care reform but still hoping to enact a robust agenda. Speaking with NBC News on Friday evening, Spicer said the administration learned whom it could work with going forward.
"Some people you can take at their word," he said.