Trump stumps for tax bill with populist pitch in MO

Zeke Miller
Associated Press

St. Charles, Mo. – President Donald Trump is making a public show Wednesday of trying to win over Democratic votes for the Republican tax cut package, even as GOP officials have written that off as an unlikely outcome.

The GOP president arrived in Missouri to try to push the Republican tax plan across the finish line. He’s expected to again call on the state’s Democratic senator, Claire McCaskill, to embrace the package. McCaskill, a top Republican target in the 2018 midterm elections, voted against the plan in a Senate Finance Committee vote this month.

In his speech in the St. Louis suburbs, Trump plans a populist appeal for the Republican tax package.

“This is our chance to free our economy and our workers from the terrible tax burden in Washington,” Trump says, in excerpts released by the White House.

But while the White House says the plan will be a boon to middle-income families by helping small-business owners and workers, sparking economic growth and simplifying the tax code, critics say both the House and Senate versions will disproportionately help the wealthy and corporations.

The visit marks Trump’s second to the state to sell his plan. During his trip to Springfield in August, Trump pledged the plan would “bring back Main Street.”

The trip comes a day after the Senate Finance Committee advanced a sweeping tax package to the full Senate, handing Republican leaders a victory as they try to pass the nation’s first tax overhaul in 31 years. But the bill still faces hurdles in the Senate, where Republicans have just two votes to spare in their 52-48 edge over Democrats.

Senior administration officials said Trump is expected to once again target McCaskill, who is among 10 Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2018 in states won by Trump and is considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents. They weren’t authorized to speak on the record about the speech and spoke on condition of anonymity.

McCaskill was among 45 Senate Democrats who in August sent a letter to Republican leaders and Trump saying they won’t support any GOP effort to overhaul the tax system that delivers cuts to the top 1 percent or adds to the government’s $20 trillion debt.

Trump’s speech will be to an audience of about 1,000 people in St. Charles. According to White House excerpts, Trump plans to say “we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to restore American prosperity and reclaim America’s destiny. But in order to achieve this bright and glowing future, the Senate must pass tax cuts and bring Main Street roaring back to life.”

Trump in August said that if McCaskill didn’t support his plan, voters should push her out of office.

Among the officials who greeted Trump at the airport were Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley, who is running for McCaskill’s seat.

Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report