President Donald Trump will begin barnstorming for tax reform Wednesday with a major speech in Springfield, Missouri.
The president has his work cut out for him.
Tax reform remains the last best chance for the White House and the Republican Party to put aside their growing differences and rally around a common ideological cause. But those differences are growing and becoming nastier as President Trump continues to berate an expanding list of Republican senators — with many of them returning the fire.
Feuds or no feuds, the Trump administration has been light on legislative successes in its crucial first year so far. After the complete failure to pass any bill to reform, let alone repeal, Obamacare, this White House must prove it can make the kind of impact that only legislation through Congress can achieve. As effective as executive orders and eliminating regulations can be, sometimes new laws are the only way to make a lasting change.
Several Republican lawmakers once deemed "safe" supporters of tax reform could now bolt due to personal irritation or resentment toward Trump. Many Republicans believe that's exactly what was really behind Senator John McCain's recent decision to vote against the Obamacare repeal despite years of promising to do the opposite.
The bigger hurdles for the president go well beyond the intramural squabbles in Washington, D.C. When it comes to tax reform, or even the simple idea of tax cuts, America is not as unified as it has been in the past. In short, it will require President Trump's keenest salesmanship to explain why cutting taxes and simplifying the tax code are urgent priorities right now.