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Trump Expects Democrats To Support His Tax Overhaul. Will They?

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The Trump administration is taking its tax plan on the road. The president was in Indiana yesterday pitching his proposal to overhaul the tax code. Today it's Vice President Mike Pence's turn. He will be in Michigan and Wisconsin. The top lines from the plan are as follows. It would cut the corporate tax rate by 15 percent and create 3 individual tax brackets with rates of 12, 25 and 35 percent. And while it comes on the heels of a stinging health care defeat, President Trump said he thinks this plan will get Democratic support.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I really believe we're going to have numerous Democrats come over and sign because it's the right thing to do. I believe that it's the right thing to do. And I know many of them. And they're telling me it is the right thing to do.

MARTIN: Let's put that question to Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Texas. He's the ranking member on the House Ways and Means tax policy subcommittee.

Congressman, thanks for being with us.

LLOYD DOGGETT: So good to join you, Rachel.

MARTIN: Is this the right thing to do? Will Democrats get behind this?

DOGGETT: Absolutely not. This was a proposal by the president to us the day before yesterday with the vice president. Many superlatives - greatest plan ever, no tax cuts for the rich - but there is little to do in the specifics of the bill with all the superlatives. And so little appears to have been learned from this health care fiasco. Once again, the details are being kept secret. And I think no Democratic amendments will be accepted, and this will be an attempt to rush it through in the next 30 days.

MARTIN: Why do you think no Democratic amendments will be accepted? You don't buy that this is...

DOGGETT: No, I - the...

MARTIN: ...Supposed to be a bipartisan effort?

DOGGETT: Well, it's bipartisan in this sense, not that there's cooperation in running the tax train but there's an opportunity to hop on the caboose at the end after all the decisions have been made. They've been very specific about the benefits that will go to the wealthy - cutting - eliminating the minimum tax, reducing the rate for the highest-income earners while raising it for the lowest-income tax bracket and eliminating the estate tax. They've been rather vague about how it is that working families will really be helped by this plan. But once again, the president is saying - no tax cuts for the rich, we're here to help working people.

MARTIN: We heard from Republican Congressman Dave Schweikert this morning of Arizona. And when we put that to him, the criticism that this was a plan Democrats say is loaded with cuts for the wealthy, he pointed to the fact that the plan also includes cuts of exemptions that was supposed to balance this out. Do you buy that?

DOGGETT: Well, it does include some cuts for exemptions that may affect working families. And I think some working families under this plan could actually see their taxes increase. As far as the wealthy are concerned, the cuts and the way this will be paid for is still very vague. We haven't gotten any of the specifics on that. It does appear to be a Republican blueprint, though, that is written in red ink and that ultimately would cost trillions of dollars of national debt. That just means we'll borrow more from the Chinese and the Saudis and elsewhere and use that giant public debt that has grown through the tax bill as a way to push out Medicare, Social Security, education, other vital services with the Republican claims that the debt's so big we cannot afford to do right by our people.

MARTIN: Congressman Schweikert also made the case that the bulk of the Republican Party is making, has been making for years - that the economy needs a boost - that the economy needs to grow in order to create more jobs, get wages out of their slump. Do you disagree with that?

DOGGETT: Well, I'm all for a pro-growth change in our policies. But, you know, the best pro-growth plan would be the first issue I raised with the president when we were at the Roosevelt Room day before yesterday. And that is to move forward, as the first priority, as the president of Microsoft suggested, not with tax cuts but with doing something to protect our 800,000 young DREAMers that came here as children and are contributing so much. Comprehensive immigration reform, investing more in job training and apprenticeship programs - those are the types of things that can grow our economy. What this does is follow the same old Republican theory that if you cut the taxes at the top, somehow it will eventually flow down to those at the bottom; that if you incentivize moving jobs offshore in the way you treat corporate taxes with this so-called territorial system, that that will somehow help workers here. It just - the evidence is just not there.

MARTIN: So this, as you point out rightly, is a fundamental principle of conservative economic philosophy, that by cutting taxes, that it will create this trickle-down effect that will stimulate the economy. So if you just wholeheartedly, wholesaling dismissed that, then what are the odds of Democrats getting behind any portion of this particular plan?

DOGGETT: There may be a handful of Democrats that eventually support this plan because they're under such pressure. And it is - the tax code is complex. It's difficult to explain the ins and outs of this. But I think, on the whole, Democrats will realize that if we really want to advance growth, if we want to have responsible policies, we will pay - see that every dime is paid for in this tax cut and that we invest more in people.

MARTIN: Congressman Lloyd Doggett is the ranking member on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Tax Policy.

Thanks so much for your time this morning, Congressman.

DOGGETT: Thanks a lot. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.