Eager to show more bipartisanship than President Obama did and still wincing from the GOP's failure to deliver its years-long promise to kill Obamacare, President Trump is broadening outreach in hopes of building a conservative-moderate-liberal coalition large enough to pass his agenda, starting with tax reform.
"We still believe that tax reform will be better if done on a bipartisan basis," said Marc Short, the president's top congressional lobbyist.
"And we've also learned," he added, in a reference to the Obamacare repeal failure, "that keeping 50-52 Republicans is not something that's reliable. And so despite promises of commitments that they made to voters since 2010, we don't feel like we can assume we can get tax reform done strictly on a partisan basis. So it's wise for us, not just from a policy perspective, but from a vote counting perspective to try to reach out and earn the support of Democrats as well," added Short, assistant to the president and director of the Office of Legislative Affairs.
In addition to last week's debt limit deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Short said that the president's team has also been meeting with influential outside groups like Club for Growth, Heritage and Americans for Prosperity.
Trump is planning an aggressive road trip to promote tax reform, a blueprint used by past presidents to push their agenda but one he didn't hit as hard during the recent effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.
He is also hosting bipartisan groups at the White House in hopes of pulling together his coalition.
Trump wants to get corporate rates down to 15%. "Ultimately there is probably compromise" to get to a deal, but 15% best, Marc Short said. https://t.co/SDvULpYo6n— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) September 12, 2017
Short, speaking at a packed media roundtable breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, noted that engaging political opponents wasn't something that Obama did. In fact, many Democrats complained that even they weren't wooed during Obama's eight years in office.
"As far as with the relationships with members, and with leadership, I think that the president maintains a strong relationship with Mitch McConnell and with Speaker Ryan right now. And I think that despite some of the news of the last week, I don't know that we think there's anything wrong that he also has good relationships with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. I think we would argue that the Obama administration in some ways failed to have those relationships across the aisle and it probably hurt them in some of the things that they were trying to do and it probably hurt the country for not getting more done.
"So I think you'll continue to see the president to not look it as, ‘Hey what do I need to do to stay in the good graces of Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan.' He's going to look at it and say, ‘What's in the best interest of the American people,'" said Short.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at email@example.com