President's aides use Bush tactic in tax fight

WASHINGTON • The White House is reaching back to the Bush administration for a strategy to get a tax code overhaul passed, as President Donald Trump's advisers try to avoid the missteps that doomed the effort to repeal Obamacare.

To take on a task that has not been accomplished in Washington in three decades, senior aides are adopting a tightly orchestrated process and walking away from the improvisational approach that has been the Trump administration's hallmark.

The centrepiece is a weekly, all-hands-on-deck meeting to coordinate the campaign by the President and his allies to win passage of sweeping changes to individual and corporate tax laws, according to four White House officials.

The regular Wednesday meetings include representatives of major power centres within the administration: the Office of American Innovation, led by Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner; the Treasury Department, headed by Secretary Steven Mnuchin; Vice-President Mike Pence's staff; and Mr Gary Cohn's National Economic Council.

Inside the White House, the assemblage is known as "The Red Team", a term used in former president George W. Bush's administration for similar groups organised for major fights. The Trump team is using the label more broadly to convey a sense of urgency and close coordination, the administration officials said.

As the strategy group works on the political fight, White House officials and congressional Republican leaders are also working on the details of the legislation.

They are discussing mixing permanent changes in tax law with temporary rate cuts for individuals and businesses, according to people familiar with those discussions. Doing so might help produce legislation that can be passed through a budgetary process known as reconciliation to prevent Senate Democrats from blocking it.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2017, with the headline 'President's aides use Bush tactic in tax fight'. Print Edition | Subscribe