Trump Takes Tax Pitch to Heritage Foundation

(CN) – President Donald Trump pitched his tax cut plan to a conservative think tank Tuesday night, arguing the “massive tax relief” he’s proposing will strengthen the economy, create jobs, and overcome the “lack of leadership” he claims has stunted U.S. economic growth.

Welcomed to the stage by Heritage Foundation president Edwin Feulner, Trump moved quickly to his tax plan, which he says will slash the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, reduce the number of individual income tax brackets, and double the standard deduction.

“You understand that lower taxes mean bigger paychecks, more jobs and stronger growth,” Trump said. “At the heart of our plan is a tax cut for every day working Americans.

“The first $12,000 [of earned income] for a single individual and the first $24,000 for a married couple will be tax free,” he said.

Trump also repeated his  assertion that the corporate tax cut and other changes would lead to a $4,000 pay raise for the average American family.

This claim is disputed by Democratic lawmakers  and many tax experts that the elimination of many existing deductions will actually increase taxes for many families.

In addition, a number of studies, including a 2012 Treasury Department analysis, have shown that corporate tax cuts typically benefit Wall Street, not rank-and-file Americans.

Trump said the other pillar of his tax plan would be to reduce the “crushing business tax.”

Echoing sentiments from the campaign trail, he lamented the U.S. business tax rate as “60 percent higher than our average economic competitor.”

“This is a giant self inflicted economic wound,” he said. “This is why we will cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to [no less than] 20 percent, way below our average competition out there in this very competitive world. “

While the statutory corporate tax is 35 percent, according to a Congressional Research Service report, when measured against other advanced economies, the U.S. rate is higher but the “average effective rate is about the same and the marginal rate on new investment is only slightly higher.”

Trump’s remarks came hours after he appeared to endorse a bipartisan plan aimed at stabilizing America’s health insurance markets in the wake of his order to terminate subsidies that help insurance companies reduce costs for lower-income people.

It’s a proposal the think tank opposes.

Trump said at the dinner he was pleased Democrats had “finally responded to my call for them to take responsibility for their Obamacare disaster” and were working with Republicans “to provide much-needed relief to the American people.” But it remained unclear whether he would throw his weight behind the plan.

“While I commend the bipartisan work done by Senators Alexander and Murray — and I do commend it — I continue to believe Congress must find a solution to the Obamacare mess instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies,” he said.

Trump also touted his efforts to roll back regulations, claiming he has done more of that than “any president in history.”

“Over the last nine months, we have removed job-killing regulations at a record pace. In fact, in nine months, we have done more, they say, than any president in history,” Trump.

“And there’s more to come,” Trump added, speaking about his administration’s work to roll back environmental protections and end the Environmental Protection Agency’s “war on clean, beautiful coal.”

He was referring to a notice signed by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt last week that begins the process of overturning the Obama-era “Clean Power Plan” aimed at reducing carbon emissions from power plants.

“I believe in regulation, but it has to be limited to what we need,” he said Tuesday. “We want clean water, we want clean air but it has to be fair,” Trump said. “We also want, by the way, jobs.”

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