PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland ) — Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader said his Wednesday afternoon visit to the White House to talk tax reform was an extension of bipartisan efforts on health care and other issues.
Schrader, a Canby Democrat representing Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, was among 13 House members who sat down with President Donald J. Trump to offered their ideas about the upcoming congressional tax reform effort. He joined seven other Democrats and five Republicans invited to the meeting.
“Over the summer, I brought together a bipartisan health care group to work on a series of solutions to improve the ACA and stabilize the individual marketplace,” Schrader said after the meeting. “I attended a bipartisan meeting at the White House today in hopes on getting the President on board with my bipartisan plan. I also told the President that tax reform is not a partisan issue and, to get my support, it must be deficit neutral so we aren’t pushing our kids and grandkids deeper into debt.”
It was the second White House meeting in two days that included both Democrats and Republicans who discussed possible changes to the federal tax system. On Tuesday, Trump had dinner with six senators, including Democrats Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.
Trump is expected to have dinner Wednesday evening with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California to continue discussions to tax reform and other issues.
Trump said Wednesday the meetings were part of his plan to get bipartisan support for several issues, including tax reform, rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and solving the immigration puzzle. He also brushed aside conservative skepticism about his meeting with Democrats to lay groundwork for future legislation.
“Well, I’m conservative and, I will tell you, I’m not skeptical,” Trump told the House members at Wednesday’s White House meeting. “And I think that if we can do things in a bipartisan manner, that will be great. Now, it might not work out, in which case, we’ll try and do them without. But I think if we can do, in a bipartisan manner — if you look at some of the greatest legislation ever passed, it was done on a bipartisan manner. And so that’s why we’re going to give it a shot.”
Rich ‘will not be gaining’
Schrader has been part of a small bipartisan group in the House working on legislation to alter the Affordable Care Act as an alternative to repealing and replacing the health care law. Known as the Problem Solvers Caucus, the group’s suggestions have received favorable reviews from most of the House Democrats, Schrader said in July.
Trump is working with House leaders to craft a tax reform plan that could be introduced in late September. During Wednesday’s meeting, the president said his focus would be on lowering taxes for businesses to about 15 percent and boosting the middle class through tax cuts.
Trump told the House members that he planned to introduce “the largest tax decrease in the history of our country for the middle class,” and he hoped that by reducing the business tax rate it would “encourage companies to hire and grow in America.”
Tax cuts for the wealthy, which have stifled past tax-cut proposals, could be negotiated in the proposal, Trump told House members gathered in the Cabinet Room.
“The rich will not be gaining at all with this plan,” Trump said. “We are looking for the middle class and we are looking for jobs — jobs meaning the economy. So we’re looking at middle class and we’re looking at jobs.
“I think the wealthy will be pretty much where they are. If we can do that, we’d like it. If they have to go higher, they’ll go higher, frankly.”