Trump sells tax reform: ‘Our tax code is a giant self-inflicted economic wound’

President Trump took his push to reform the country’s tax laws on the road to North Dakota on Wednesday, describing America’s tax code as “a giant self-inflicted economic wound” as he called for drastic tax cuts for individuals and businesses.

“Our painful tax system has become a massive barrier to America’s economic comeback,” Trump said during a speech at the Andeavor Refinery in Mandan. “It really is. We’re penalized. It costs us millions of American jobs, trillions of dollars and billions of hours wasted on paperwork and on compliance.”

He added, “Our tax code is a giant self-inflicted economic wound.”

Calling the effort a “once in a generation opportunity” and “a sharp reversal from the failed policy of the past,” the president called for cutting both individual and corporate income taxes.

The White House has not yet released a detailed tax reform plan, but Trump said Wednesday he wants a tax code that is “simple, fair and easy to understand.” The president said he’d like to bring the corporate tax rate down to 15 percent from 35 percent.

“My administration is working with Congress to develop a plan that will deliver more jobs, higher pay, lower taxes for businesses of all sizes and middle classes families all across the nation,” he said.

Trump took aim at the tax preparation industry, saying, “that’s one business I want to drive down.”

“Sorry. H&R Block will not be supporting Donald Trump, I can tell you,” he said.

During his speech, Trump called for the defeat of lawmakers who don’t back the effort.

“Anybody that is going to vote against tax cuts and tax reforms… you got to vote against them and get them out of office,” he said. “Because it is so bad.”

Trump referred to North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who was in attendance for the speech along with Republican lawmakers, as a “good woman” and said he hopes he’ll have her support on the issue.

Earlier Wednesday, the president struck a surprise deal with Democratic leaders to raise the federal debt ceiling, fund the government for the next three months and provide Hurricane Harvey relief money – a move the White House hopes clears the deck for Congress to pass tax legislation.

“I think it puts pressure on all of us to get tax reform done before December,” White House legislative director Marc Short told reporters on the flight to Mandan.


On Tuesday, the president met with key Republicans involved in crafting tax policy and called for a legislative package that lowers taxes and makes America a “jobs magnet” as Congress returns to Washington.

Those who met with Trump in Roosevelt Room included House Speaker Paul Ryan, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn.

Last week, Trump traveled to Springfield, Mo., to deliver a speech formally kicking off his push for comprehensive tax reform, making a case for lawmakers to simplify the tax code.

“I don't want to be disappointed by Congress,” Trump said last week.