Trump Plans a Blitzkrieg to Sell His Tax Plan for the Rich

Axios reports that the Trump administration intends to handle its tax-cut agenda way differently than it handled health care. They’re already deeply prepared for the marketing push, with Sean Spicer in overall charge:

Activists and business leaders…all tell us the same thing: They’re surprised about how much planning and organizing the White House has already done….President Trump … barnstorming the Midwest … engaging CEOs across the country … town halls … write letters to their employees explaining the benefits of tax reform … local mayors and county commissioners … spend big on advertising support … Heritage Action, Americans for Tax Reform, the Business Roundtable, and the Koch brothers’ network … grassroots organizing campaign.

Wow. But what about the tax plan itself?

We expect the White House to float a few tax policy trial balloons in August….[One] major unsolved problem is how (or if) to pay for all these tax cuts. Some in the White House would happily just blow out the deficit, but Leadership suspects most Republicans wouldn’t be on board with that.

Eric Levitz comments:

Ah. So activists and business leaders are pleasantly surprised by how well prepared the White House is to pass tax reform. Also, it will be one more month before the administration begins floating “tax policy trial balloons,” and, for the moment, the top economic minds in the Executive branch have no idea how to defray the cost of their desired tax cuts — which a recent analysis put at around $7.8 trillion over ten years — beyond “blow out the deficit.”

We’re now grading the White House policy proposals by the same exacting standards that a Montessori preschool teacher deploys when offering feedback on finger paintings.

That’s true, but keep something in mind: When you’re a “populist” who’s planning to propose a gigantic tax break for millionaires and big corporations, your comms strategy is 90 percent of what you need to do. The fiddly details of policy can be left to the nerds and the pols. It’s just a matter of deciding who gets the biggest slices of the pie, after all. The hard part is making sure that your fans are prepped to yell FAKE NEWS every time someone reports that the plan will be a gigantic tax break for millionaires and big corporations.

This is something Trump grasps instinctively, but back in March he hadn’t quite appreciated how it had to be scaled up now that he’s dealing with national politics. I think he now understands that it requires military discipline, months of unbroken persistence, and a presidential level of lying and browbeating. We’ll see if he can pull it off.


In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.