In the wake of Donald Trump’s victory, Washington is trying to make sense of a new, unexpected and unpredictable political world. Looking at what might happen in the first 100 days of the Trump Administration may bring some clarity.
“It’s still early, but priority issues for the 115th Congress and the Trump Administration are beginning to gel,” said the Society of American Florists’ Senior Director of Government Relations Shawn McBurney. “In the first three months of the year, three major issues are likely to be addressed: tax reform, repealing the Affordable Care Act, and immigration reform.”
Tax reform may be the first major issue Washington tackles, McBurney said, noting that Stephen Moore, a senior advisor to Trump, has said that the tax code can be thoroughly overhauled in Trump’s first 150 days in office.
“An internal document notes that Donald Trump intends to eliminate the estate tax, a tax SAF and many other small business groups worked aggressively to reform over many years, although SAF’s positon on the issue never included repeal,” he said.
Making tax reform even more probable early in the next administration is the fact that a tax blueprint released earlier this year by Republicans on the House Ways & Means Committee is very close to the tax proposals Trump said he favored during the campaign.
At a recent event attended by SAF, House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said he is excited about working with the Trump administration to lower the individual and corporate tax rates and reduce the incentives for U.S.-based companies to keep their profits overseas.
In addition, Trump has named Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus as his chief of staff. Priebus has close ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) who was unanimously nominated by his fellow House Republicans to Speaker for a second term.
“Speaker Ryan is a strong proponent of tax reform,” McBurney said. “With a direct line between the Speaker and the White House, coordinating efforts on tax reform will be much easier.”
On top of that, the third-highest ranking Republican on the House Ways & Means Committee, Rep. Kevin Nunes (R-California), was chosen by Trump to be part of his transition team. Nunes has authored a tax reform plan that would cut the tax on business income to 25 percent and allow companies to immediately write off the cost of their investment expenses.
Repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a centerpiece of Trump’s campaign and has been an illusory goal of congressional Republicans since its enactment. That goal, however, suddenly became very possible.
“Trump has said he supports two of the popular aspects of the ACA: allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ policies, and allowing those with preexisting conditions to obtain insurance,” McBurney said. “However, the rest of the law, he says, is subject to repeal.”
Trump and congressional Republicans will face stiff opposition from Democrats. To overcome that opposition, Republicans will probably use a legislative tactic called “budget reconciliation.”
“The reconciliation process is an arcane part of developing a congressional budget,” McBurney explained. “What makes the process attractive as a vehicle to repeal the ACA is that passage in the Senate only requires a simple majority of votes and cannot be filibustered like other legislation.”
While immigration received the greatest visibility of any issue during the campaign, it has not been mentioned as prominently since the election. Just after the election Trump said he would first deport between 2 million and 3 million undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes. He also noted that securing the border is a priority and after that is achieved, he would determine what actions to take about the remaining undocumented immigrants.
“Addressing that larger issue will most likely take a great deal of time given its complexity, the economic realities of the need for immigrant workers (especially in agriculture) and that many Republicans in the House and Senate favor an approach that includes the legalization of many of those currently undocumented,” McBurney said.
SAF will continue to push for immigration reform legislation that give growers access to the labor they need, but will also remain open to other solutions coming forth from the Trump administration.