- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 22, 2017

President Trump has an aggressive game plan to corral senate support for tax reform, including repeated phone calls, golf outings, formal meetings and deploying Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in a charm offensive.

The president is determined to avoid a repeat of the fiasco of the Obamacare repeal when the bill fell short by a single Republican vote.

With no room for error in the whip count when Republicans hold a thin 52-seat majority in the a 100-member chamber, Mr. Trump is going after a wide range of GOP senators and a handful of Democrats.

“I don’t want to take any chances because I feel we have the votes right now the way it is,” Mr. Trump said in an interview aired Sunday on Fox Business Network.

The Senate approval Thursday of the 2018 budget cleared a path for the biggest tax overhaul in 30 years. The GOP proposal would slash rates for individuals and businesses while simplifying the tax code to a one-page return for most filers.

The details will be hammered out in Congress, leaving ample opportunity for a volatile Republican conferences in both chambers to blow it up.

Tax reform is the centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s economic agenda and viewed as a must-win for the administration.

Republican leaders on Capitol Hill also are desperate to put a win on the board. They have failed to score any major legislative victories since their party took control of both Congress and the White House nine months ago.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan set a Thanksgiving deadline to get the tax reform package to a vote.

The Wisconsin Republican is trying to keep the momentum behind tax reform push while Mr. Trump works to keep the Senate in line.

The president spent hours at separate golf outings recently with Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, and Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican.

He’s also had frequent phone calls with Mr. Paul throughout last week. The attention appeared to pay dividends.

By Friday, Mr. Paul tweeted that he was “all in for tax cuts.”

“The biggest, boldest cuts possible — and soon!” wrote Mr. Paul, who cast the only GOP vote against the budget bill.

Last week, Ivanka Trump and her husband, Mr. Kushner, hosted a bipartisan dinner at their home in Washington’s upscale Kalorama neighborhood.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin was at the table and tax reform was on the menu, according to participants.

Mr. Trump’s daughter and son-in-law serve as top White House advisers. They also have strong ties to New York’s liberal political class and are uniquely suited to court Senate Democrats.

It was one in a series of bipartisan dinners Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner will host to help push forward the president’s agenda, a White House official said.

The dinner guests last week included Republican Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada, Mike Lee of Utah, Sen. Davide Perdue of Georgia and Marco Rubio of Florida.

Mr. Lee and Mr. Rubio are demanding a major increase — at least doubling — of the child tax credit. It’s an issue where they are closely aligned with Ms. Trump.

Mr. Lee said the conversation with Mr. Mnuchin was very productive and that he couldn’t be happier about the outreach from Ivanka Trump on the child tax credit.

The Senate Democrats at the dinner were some of the party’s most vulnerable incumbents up for re-election next year: Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania.

All are running in states that Mr. Trump won and, with the exception of Pennsylvania, states he won by wide margins.

Ivanka and Jared were great hosts. They kept — everything was moving in a direction,” Mr. Manchin said on CNN. “We really got into some serious content, which I think helped all sides find a pathway forward. And we’re hoping we can do that.”

The president has made persistent outreach to Mr. Manchin, who is one of the most moderate Senate Democrats.

At this juncture, Mr. Manchin is still a no vote on the GOP proposal. His reluctance underscores the long-shot gamble of relying on any Senate Democrats to get tax reform across the finish line.

Mr. Trump has held event on tax reform in Missouri, North Dakota and Pennsylvania to energize the base and put pressure on the vulnerable Democrats in those states.

That effort will continue.

The White House is organizing more events for the president in key states as part of the tax reform push. White House officials said that there is no substitute for Mr. Trump speaking directly to the American people about how tax cuts and reforms will let them keep more of each paycheck, increase wages and create better jobs.

“It will be rocket fuel for our economy,” Mr. Trump said when he introduced the plan this month at a Pennsylvania event. “It means more jobs, higher pay and lower taxes for middle-income families and American businesses of every size.”


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