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Republicans have 'tough hill to climb' on tax reform, GOP strategist says

Key Points
  • GOP strategist Ron Christie thinks there is only a 50-50 chance of Republicans passing tax reform, and the political infighting isn't helping.
  • Republican Tony Fratto believes trying to divide the GOP is "really, really destructive."
Tax reform a very tough hill for Republicans to climb: Ron Christie

There's only about a 50-50 shot of getting tax reform done this year, Republican strategist Ron Christie predicted to CNBC on Friday.

"It's a very, very tough hill for Republicans to climb right now. We've seen the inability of House Republicans and their colleagues in the Senate to find consensus, to find a package to move forward to get to the president's desk," the former special assistant to President George W. Bush said in an interview with "Power Lunch."

"If you thought health care was complicated, I think tax reform is going to be an even more difficult burden for these guys to get over the finish line."

And the political infighting between President Donald Trump and Republicans certainly isn't helping matters, Republican Tony Fratto added.

Trump slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell multiple times this week for what Trump calls his failure to follow through on the GOP agenda.

"Mitch, get back to work and put Repeal & Replace, Tax Reform & Cuts and a great Infrastructure Bill on my desk for signing," Trump wrote Thursday on Twitter.

The taunts led Republican senators to rally around McConnell on Friday.

Fratto, who was White House deputy press secretary under President George W. Bush, told "Power Lunch" he believes the only way to get tax reform done is to have the party unified.

"I have yet to meet a Republican in Washington who does not want to have significant tax reform done," he said. "They are unified on this. So trying to divide them is really, really destructive."

Jared Bernstein, former economic policy advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, thinks Trump's goal is to elevate Trump, not unify Republicans.

"He's far more interested in casting blame them in passing tax reform," Bernstein said.

Christie thinks Trump needs to work with McConnell on tax reform, not insult him over social media

"If we can't get anything done in the Congress, and we have the largest governing majority since 1929, it tells you perhaps that Republicans don't deserve the trust to govern."

— CNBC's Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.