WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump will turn his signature populist rhetoric toward tax reform on Wednesday in a speech expected to tout tax cuts as a way to help workers and the middle class in an economy “rigged” against them, senior White House officials said.
With his domestic policy agenda stalled amid Republican infighting and his approval rating at just 35 percent, Trump will make his first presidential speech specifically on tax reform, one of his key 2016 campaign promises.
The president will not offer a detailed plan to overhaul the tax code or cut tax rates, the officials said, saying the speech in Springfield, Missouri, will focus on “why” not “how.”
In Washington, few disagree that tax reform is needed, but the “how” is the difficult part. There has been no comprehensive overhaul of the tax code since 1986.
After more than seven months in power, Trump and Republican leaders who control both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives are still far from agreement on a tax package, leading some market analysts to lower expectations for changes this year.
Reiterating a campaign theme, Trump will say in his speech, scheduled for 2:30 p.m. EDT (1830 GMT), that the U.S. economy is “rigged” to favor the privileged few and urge closing loopholes for the wealthy and special interests to help “Main Street.”
The officials, who asked not to be identified during a conference call with reporters, said those ideas would make for a “bipartisan” message because the notion of a rigged economy cuts across the spectrum of U.S. political ideology.
The president’s two top advisers on tax reform will be with him at the speech: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, who are helping to guide the tax reform debate on Capitol Hill.
His daughter, Ivanka Trump, an advocate for expanding the child tax credit, will also be there.