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Trump pushes Congress to approve more tax breaks for the wealthy

The Republican campaign to pass a massive tax plan has reached a delicate stage. Donald Trump appears eager to mess that up.
Image: US President Donald J. Trump meets with members of the House Ways and Means Committee
epa06228292 US President Donald J. Trump (C) meets with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R), Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member...

The Republican campaign to pass a massive tax plan has reached a delicate stage. House GOP leaders have vowed to bring their regressive plan to the floor for a vote this week and are still rounding up enough votes to pass it. Similar efforts are under way in the Senate, which intends to vote on a related plan in two weeks.

It's against this backdrop that Donald Trump thought it'd be a good idea to jump in with a disruptive tweet.

"I am proud of the Rep. House & Senate for working so hard on cutting taxes {& reform.} We're getting close! Now, how about ending the unfair & highly unpopular Indiv Mandate in OCare & reducing taxes even further? Cut top rate to 35% w/all of the rest going to middle income cuts?"

Just so we're clear, the president's message, delivered from Asia, directed Republicans to take health care benefits from millions of Americans, while cutting taxes on the wealthy -- including himself.

Note, the GOP plans in both the House and Senate have top marginal rates above 35%, which means that Trump, at this sensitive time in the process, is publicly complaining that the Republican proposals don't go far enough to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

Can't you just feel the populism?

Making matters slightly worse, no one benefits from Trump popping off like this. GOP lawmakers are already struggling to make their arithmetic work, and they can't afford to cut taxes for the rich even more. As a result, congressional Republicans have no choice but to ignore their own party's president -- who hasn't even tried to play a constructive policymaking role -- and push a plan that's at odds with Trump's wishes.

If and when the tax overhaul passes, the president has guaranteed coverage that will say Trump "didn't get what he wanted" out of the plan.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that Trump World is drawing a line in the sand over corporate tax cuts.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Trump administration wouldn't support tax legislation with a corporate tax rate of more than 20% as part of any future compromise between the House and the Senate.In an interview at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council gathering on Monday, Mr. Mnuchin ruled out any increase in the corporate tax rate to above 20%."It's not going up," he said. "I can tell you this is one of the things the president feels very strongly about."

This isn't helpful, either. Trump also felt "very strongly" about a 15% corporate rate, which was an unrealistic demand that Republicans were forced to ignore. Mnuchin is now demanding a 20% rate, which is what the GOP plan already includes.

As for the notion that the president won't support legislation with a 21% or 22% corporate rate, does anyone actually believe that? If Republicans were forced to give corporations a slightly smaller tax cut to make their numbers add up, are we to believe Trump would veto the GOP bill?

Please. This White House is alarmingly bad at bluffing, and no one is going to believe this latest posturing.