RUSH: I saw this headline in the Daily Mail today, and you know, I heard allusions to this, but I had not put any stock in it. And here’s the upshot: Trump ditches tax reform plan. By the way, let me just tell you something, are you aware of the of the tremendous gains in the stock market since Trump’s election through the transition? We had some ups and downs, but it’s been roaring since Trump was inaugurated. I’m gonna tell you why. I mean, there’s a bunch of nebulous reasons for market activity that no one can accurately always explain, but there are some things that can logically be said to have a cause and effect.
And the stock market going bonkers, no question in my mind, has been related to some extent to the fact that investors and businesspeople have believed that there are going to be serious corporate tax cuts and personal ones. Personal tax cuts create more disposable income, which is money to spend. And the corporate tax rate is way, way too high. It needs to come down. And there’s a bunch of foreign money held by American corporations that if they do not repatriate, mean bring back home because tax rates are so high, it would be a stupid financial move to bring the money home instead of leaving it where it’s parked in other parts of the world.
Because there has been a belief that Trump and the Republicans were gonna cut taxes, corporate taxes and personal income taxes and Obamacare was gonna be dealt with in a way that at least improved it. If it wasn’t fully repealed, at least it was going to be improved. And for this reason there has been optimism in what is called the investor community. But now — well, I don’t know what’s gonna happen, because the talk of tax cuts just keeps getting more distant and distant and distant. And remember what I told you last week, or maybe it was two weeks ago.
Whenever I hear talk of tax cuts, if I don’t hear a genuine ideological underpinning for them — and by that I mean, if I don’t hear somebody explain why they’re cutting taxes, if they just say they’re gonna cut taxes ’cause it’s a good campaign promise, because of personal reasons, benefits people might get, that’s one thing. When I hear somebody say they want to cut taxes because of the tremendous gains and economic improvements that will result, then I know they’re serious.
Tax cutting is a very integral part of growing an economy. And somebody who ideologically or economically understands how they work would, therefore, be committed to them on that basis. But somebody who just talks tax cuts because it’s a guaranteed winner and it sounds good, and it might be expected of certain candidates, they’d be in favor of them, I don’t necessarily believe them as much. I mean, the only person I know of, at least in my lifetime, who ever campaigned for a tax increase was Walter Mondale in 1984 at the Democrat convention.
I have never seen anything dumber. And what Mondale said, he stood up there and he said something along the lines, “Let me tell you the truth, ladies and gentlemen, of the United States, I’m gonna raise your taxes. I’m not gonna cut ’em. And President Reagan’s gonna do the same thing. He won’t tell you, but I just did.” And I could just see Dan Rather’s makeup literally fall off of his face. You do not win promising to raise taxes. Even liberals are not — they tell you they want the rich to pay more taxes, but not them. Not themselves.
So my point, every politician campaigns on cutting taxes, but when you hear somebody tell you why they want to do it and it’s deeply intertwined with economic activity, robust employment gains, serious employment gains and economic growth, you know they’re committed to it.
It was very hard for Reagan to do. There were two primary tax cuts that Reagan engineered in the 80’s. The first one was in his first two years, and the second was 1986. He had a Democrat Congress he was opposing in his first term. The primary reason he succeeded is ’cause he had a 49th state landslide, and back then the Democrats listened to the voters. And a 49-state landslide told the Democrats they weren’t wanted and weren’t needed. And it told the Democrats that they had to change.
The Democrats of today, if they lose in a 49-state landslide, are not gonna realize they need to change anything other than the way votes are counted or the way they’re cast, but it’ll never, ever, they will never think anything is wrong with them. Back then — and even with a 49-state landslide, it was hard work to get this done because spending money is the single greatest power members of Congress have.
The social architecture, the various ways you can reward and punish people that supported you or didn’t support you in some cases, you can target tax cuts for areas of the economy and people you like, and you can target tax increases for those you don’t. But you need a robust tax code with all kinds of exemptions and all kinds of multiple pages of laws.
A flat tax, a FairTax I have never believed I would ever see because I don’t believe these guys would ever give up that much power. It’s a power that, until you’re a member of the House or the Senate you might not be able to really understand it, but cutting taxes is a major, major bite of the apple. It takes genuine commitment, because at the end of the day, most elected officials don’t really want to do it. And you know why? Well, you’ve heard the reason countless times.
There is no such thing as a revenue loss in Washington. If they cut taxes on corporations — so what’ll happen, they propose a rate cut, so they cut the corporate tax rate, just make it 20% from what it is now, well, the CBO’s gonna get in gear and is gonna say, “How much is that gonna cost the government?” See, all money is the government’s. All money starts as the government’s, in their minds. And what you earn is what they decide to let you keep from your paycheck.
So if the corporate tax rate is going to cost the government — I’m gonna just make up a number for the sake of this discussion — if a corporate tax cut is gonna cost the government a trillion dollars over 10 years, then what they say in government is, “Well, we’ve got to find a way to make that back, because we cannot do with less. We will not do with less.”
You have to. Every time you have to pay more, you’re just expected to bend over, grab the ankles, and do it. But not them. Whenever there’s a tax cut, they have to find the revenue that they’re returning to you somewhere else, and where are they gonna get it? They don’t sell anything, other than land. I mean, they don’t produce anything. So the money, when they cut your taxes, they’ve gotta raise somebody’s. Some user fee here, some invisible user fee over there, ’cause they just do not do with less. And they score everything statically.
So rather than look at how much the economy’s gonna grow with a tax cut, they only see how much the government’s gonna lose. And if they can’t find a way, if they’re gonna cut corporate tax say a trillion dollars over 10 years, A, the heat they’re gonna get for doing that from the left is gonna be unbearable. And the second thing, they’re out a trillion dollars over 10 years, they gotta go find it somewhere else, so somebody else’s taxes are gonna get raised.
Something’s gonna happen, somebody’s gonna pay for it, because the government will not. No matter how bloated the budget, no matter how much we’re in debt, they will never, ever get smaller. So when I see the story: “Trump ditches tax reform plan he campaigned on and considers series of new options – including payroll tax cut in bid to woo Democrats.” What’s a payroll tax cut? Well, everybody pays that. Not everybody pays income tax. I should say everybody who works pays. The payroll tax is Social Security. It’s called FICA on your pay stub on your invoice, however you get paid. And Medicare is its own separate tax, not lumped in with the FICA. It can be as high as 3%, depending on how you organize your affairs.
But this is not what Trump campaigned on, and this is not what the markets were expecting. Neither were they expecting what happened with Obamacare. They were expecting Obamacare to get fixed or improved. And all the machinations back and forth about two years down the road, three years down the road, they didn’t get involved in that. They believe the Republicans were gonna fix it somehow. It was gonna be less onerous. It may not happen overnight instantaneously, but it was gonna get fixed, and tax cuts.
And everybody believed that and everybody believed Trump meant it specifically. He got into rates. The top rate was gonna go 39 to 33. You know my buddy I tell you about who’s just constantly — he’s just bent out of shape over this like you can’t believe? He bought it hook, line, and sinker. He’s ready to abandon Trump because of this. He’s just one guy. I’m not trying to extrapolate that it means anything, but a lot of people believed this.
“Trump had campaigned on rapid tax reform and a so-called border adjustment tax, which would effectively levy a duty on imports. Now all options are back on the table as he tries to have a reform plan which will get Republican support.” Stop and think, Republican support? That’s why he’s having to talk to Democrats because he’s getting opposition on the Republican side, just like he had on Obamacare.
“There are signs the president will be willing to work with Democrats too as White House officials hold ‘listening sessions’ with the opposition. One plan being considered is a cut in the payroll tax, which would benefit middle-earners and could garner Democratic support.”
Now, I share this with a caution. This is the media, and it could all be BS, even though it is the U.K. Daily Mail which we have found here to be fairly trustworthy. But most of the rest of it I don’t — for example, how many of you think, based on what you’ve heard in the media, that Steve Bannon is an eyelash from toast and that Reince Priebus might not be far behind? I don’t believe a word of it. Not a word of it. I think there’s so much fake news in that.
And looky here. We have a story from Reuters: “Feuding Trump Aides Meet and Agree to End ‘Palace Intrigue’: source — Top White House aides Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner met and agreed to ‘bury the hatchet’ over their differences, a senior administration official said on Saturday, in a bid to stop infighting that has distracted from President Donald Trump’s message.
“Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, and Kushner, an influential adviser and Trump’s son-in-law, met on Friday at the request of White House chief of staff Reince Priebus who told them that if they have any policy differences, they should air them internally, the official said.
“The development at the president’s Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, came at the end of what has been a relatively smooth week for Trump. … Priebus’ message to Bannon and Kushner was to ‘stop with the palace intrigue’ and focus on the president’s agenda. Both aides left having agreed that it was time to ‘bury the hatchet and move forward.'”
Let me tell you what I think is going on in the White House. I think Bannon — I mean, he’s not liked. I should more properly say, he’s resented. You know, all these insiders don’t understand how a guy like that — they don’t know him — a guy like that could be number one strategist. Have you seen the way the guy dresses, they’re saying. Have you seen the guy’s facial — did he wash his hair last year? Have you seen this guy? That’s what they’re saying. What does Trump see in this guy? He looks like a frumpy character out of Charles Dickens. Who is this guy?
So they manufacture this resent, that he comes out of Breitbart News to be the number one strategist? It doesn’t make sense to them. And then when he showed up at CPAC and said one of the objectives was to dismantle the administrative state, you might as well have shown Dracula the cross. They went bonkers.
I think what is going on, there was a Washington Post story three weeks ago now which said that the real battle in the White House is between Trump advisers who are Democrats and the Priebus-Bannon faction and that on the Democrat side is Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka.
And with Gary Cohn from Goldman Sachs and Dina Powell. Now, I think that is going on. But it’s not unusual. In any White House you have the king, and then you have the underlings, and they all want to be the go-to underling. They all want to be known of and thought of as strategist number one. They all want to be thought of as the favorite. And then they’ve got disagreeing principles and ideas. I think that battle’s probably legit for Trump’s ear.
But at the same time, Trump is not indecisive. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t think. Meaning, he’s not running around asking people what he should do. What’s going on is people trying to talk him out of being who he is because they would rather he not succeed being that. And there are people he’s chosen to work with him. And then there are people trying to encourage him to be who he is and reminding him — I think it’s common. Presidents win elections and then overcome with “I’m president of all the people now. I have to reach out even to those that didn’t vote for me.”
It happens to every one of them. And then there’s a faction in there, “Do not forget who brung you, do not forget.” And that’s the battle going on there. But this, I don’t think it’s anything unusual.
Have to take a break here. I’m not through with this, but I have to stop.
RUSH: So I just got an email and the subject line is: “I’m kind of freaking out right now.” Oh, no. What happened that I don’t know? It’s in the public email account, so it wouldn’t be anything like the cat got sick. So the person says, “I just checked my Twitter feed, and it’s everything you’ve said in the first two hours of your show and nobody is giving you credit. Everybody’s tweeting their thoughts, and it’s all echoing the first two hours of your show.”
And I said, “You’re just now noticing how that works?” He-he-he-he.
Anyhow, look, something seems common-sensical to me, and that is that Trump cannot abandon the people who elected him, the people who showed up at his rallies, the people who helped him raise money, he cannot. He doesn’t need advisers to tell him that. Why is it that we think — and this is just a generic question — why do we think, let’s say you love Trump, you voted for Trump, you think Trump’s the greatest, he’s smart, he’s not an idiot. What is it that allows you to think that he might abandon you?
What is it that makes you think he might forget who got him elected? Well, no, there are answers to that. But it’s an interesting psychological question.
RUSH: Sean Spicer at the White House daily briefing today said that all of these stories saying that President Trump has scrapped his tax plan are not true, like this U.K. Daily Mail story, not true. They are just now gearing up for the tax reform push, and there’s no truth to this business that Trump has thrown out what he campaigned on.
So there you have it, straight from the press secretary, Sean Spicer.