President Trump sent tax watchers into a tizzy Thursday afternoon with his comments to Reuters that appeared to endorse the House Republican push for a border adjustment tax. “It could lead to a lot more jobs in the United States,” he said. The provision remains the most divisive in the debate over a tax overhaul, pitting House GOPers against their Senate counterparts and major exporters (including Boeing, Dow, GE, Oracle and Pfizer) against big-box retailers like Walmart and Target, oil refiners and the potent-as-ever Koch political network. So a presidential thumb on the scale would indeed be a big deal.
But this is a good example of a time not to take Trump quite so literally. Recall that two weeks ago, Trump also said his administration soon would be rolling out a “phenomenal” tax plan, though Congressional Republicans don’t expect the administration to come forward with a proposal of its own. And yesterday, he boosted the border levy after meeting with manufacturing CEOs who promoted it to him, though last month, Trump dismissed it as “too complicated.” Then examine his fuller remarks to Reuters on the idea in question: “I certainly support a form of tax on the border,” he said. “What is going to happen is companies are going to come back here, they’re going to build their factories and they’re going to create a lot of jobs and there’s no tax.” It sounds less like Trump just made an irreversible, highly consequential decision on a nuanced piece of tax policy and more like he’s cheerleading for his broader aim of making America great again.
Huddling with about two dozen manufacturing CEOs, the president discussed plans for overhauling the tax code and rolling back regulations to foster a friendlier business climate in the U.S.
In his first television interviews since getting confirmed as Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin navigated deftly through a number of issues that divide the Trump administration from its putative Republican allies in Congress.
The former House speaker says Republicans will tweak the law around the edges and put a “more conservative box around it.”
Steven Mnuchin promised a more methodical approach to the rising economic superpower, but Trump is hewing to his confrontational campaign rhetoric.
Number of the day
The decline in foreign tourism estimated by industry publication Travel Weekly –a drop that American tourism experts are ascribing to fear of the Trump administration’s travel ban. Flight searches to the U.S. from abroad have been off by 17%.