One of President Trump’s economic advisers, a co-author of his tax plan, is urging the administration to delay efforts to make child care more affordable. The advice comes days after Trump failed to persuade the Republican-dominated Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare, a core campaign promise.
Steven Moore, a policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the White House can nab an early win with tax reform — by perhaps opting for a politically safer package.
“Trump needs a victory,” Moore said. “Individual tax reform is really hard to do. It’s politically risky, even though it’s the right thing to do.”
Trump could focus instead on corporate tax reform this year, he said, and tackle the individual system in 2018. Such an approach could more quickly slash business expenses nationwide, but working parents would have to wait longer for tax-deductible day care, another campaign pledge.
“Obviously,” Moore said, “child care wouldn’t have a place in that.”
During the campaign, Trump said he would streamline the tax system, a feat last accomplished under the Reagan administration. His proposal, unveiled in September, would reduce the number of brackets from seven to three, with rates of 12 percent, 25 percent and 33 percent.
The blueprint also expanded relief for families who face staggering day-care bills. Trump wanted to allow households to deduct the average cost of child care from their income taxes. He did not reveal how, exactly, the new deductions would work, but credited his older daughter, Ivanka Trump, for coming up with the idea.
“For many families, child care is now the single largest expense, even more so than housing,” he said in a September speech.
In the United States, the average cost of child care ranges from about $5,400 annually in Alabama to roughly $22,000 in Washington, D.C., according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a think tank in the District.
The Trump campaign claimed that middle-class parents would benefit the most from the child-care plan.
“A married couple earning $50,000 per year with two children and $8,000 in child care expenses will save 35 percent from their current tax bill,” the Trump campaign told The Washington Post. “Married couples earning $5 million per year with two children and $12,000 in child care expenses will get only a 3 percent reduction in their tax bill.”
The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan group, estimated that Trump’s tax plan would slash federal revenue by $4.4 trillion over a decade — or by $2.6 trillion, factoring in the estimated economic growth it would produce.
Larry Kudlow, an informal Trump adviser, would not comment on whether the administration would change course on tax reform. But, he added, “there’s been some debate in the White House.”
Kudlow, who helped Trump with his tax plan, said he thinks starting with business reform is a wiser idea. “You might get some bipartisan support,” he said, “and more business-investment impact, rapidly, which is what we need right now.”
Marc Goldwein, senior policy director at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan research organization, said lawmakers for years have debated the best approach to tax reform. “We keep going in a policy circle on this,” he said.
Economists have long debated if and how tax tweaks could lift the economy. The political landscape is easier to read.
“There’s some left-right agreement that the corporate rate should be lower,” Goldwein said, “but there’s not even an agreement on the direction of the individual rate.”