President Trump suggested Wednesday that he might consider changes to 401(k) retirement plans as part of tax legislation, opening the door to something he appeared to rule out on Monday.
"Maybe it is, and maybe we'll use it as negotiating," Trump responded when asked if changes to tax-privileged retirement accounts were on the table in tax reform talks.
Even as he allowed for negotiations related to the retirement plans, however, Trump said during the brief press appearance outside the White House that he had tried earlier in the week to put a stop to talk of changing 401(k)s. "I wanted to end that quickly," he said. The plans "to me, are every important."
On Monday morning, Trump abruptly tweeted that there would be no changes to the accounts in the tax bill, following reports that Republican taxwriters were considering lowering the limits on pre-tax earnings that can be placed in 401(k)s.
In doing so, he appeared to be getting ahead of the work of the tax-writing committees that he and Republican leaders have charged with filling out the details of the tax legislation.
Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said Wednesday morning that his panel is still considering changes to retirement accounts.
"We are exploring a number of ideas in those areas," Brady said at a breakfast with reporters, saying that he was working closely with the White House.
The tax treatment of 401(k)s seems to be a point of disagreement between the White House and congressional Republicans.
"I can definitively say that the president's been clear that he does not want to impact 401(k)s," White House legislative director Marc Short said on MSNBC later Wednesday morning.
But then Trump issued ambiguous comments Wednesday afternoon.
"There are certainly elements of deals you don't want to negotiate with, and Brady knows it," Trump said, adding praise for Brady.