About a month ago, Donald Trump first declared publicly that he and congressional Republicans were working “around the clock” on a “very major” new tax cut, which would be ready no later than Nov. 1, despite the fact that Congress was effectively out of session until after the elections. No one in Congress had any idea what the president was talking about, and even White House officials quietly conceded they were “mystified.”
Trump didn’t care. The plan, which appeared to exist only in his imagination, quickly became a major applause line at the president’s campaign rallies. Pressed by reporters for details, Trump boasted that he and his team had come up with a way to make his new tax plan “revenue neutral based on certain things.”
The Nov. 1 deadline came and went, and the plan the president promised to present never materialized. Yesterday, Politico published a report suggesting the policy, which never really existed in any meaningful way, is dead.
White House officials are not counting on a big infrastructure package or a deal on the kind of middle-class tax cut Trump promised at the end of the campaign.
“We’ve been noodling more on this middle-class tax cut, how to structure it, and even pay for it,” National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said in a recent interview in his West Wing office. “I don’t think the chances of that are very high, because the Democrats are going to go after the corporate tax and all that stuff.”
For those who’ve watched Trump and his operation closely in recent years, the fact that Trump made up a fictional policy, and peddled it as if it were real, is hardly shocking. Indeed, it’s one of the key takeaways from his farcical little story: the president simply says stuff, without any meaningful concerns about whether his stuff reflects reality in any way.
But that’s not the only lesson. The fact that Trump made up a tax policy just weeks ahead of Election Day – it was exclusively for the “middle class,” he said – was also emblematic of the fact that even the president realized that the actual Republican tax package was a political failure.
Indeed, the rest of the GOP’s pitch wasn’t much better. With time running out before the midterms, after nearly two years of attempts at governing, Trump came up with an entirely new vision, consisting of a made-up tax plan, fears of an imaginary “invasion,” a health care “plan” that didn’t exist, and chatter of an executive order the president hoped to issue – but could not legally expect to implement – that would’ve negated part of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
Now that the elections are nearly over, that agenda has suddenly disappeared. The cynicism behind Trump’s gambit is breathtaking.