Calling the current U.S. tax code "a giant self-inflicted wound," President Donald Trump made the case for tax reform Wednesday in North Dakota, shaking hands on stage with the state's Democratic senator, Heidi Heitkamp, who flew to the speech with Trump aboard Air Force One.
Trump also addressed his earlier meeting with congressional leadership at the White House, where the president agreed to a Democratic proposal for a short-term debt limit hike over the objections of his fellow Republicans in the room.
"We walked out, Mitch [McConnell], Paul [Ryan], Kevin [McCarthy], everybody was happy. Not too happy, because you can never be too happy. But they were happy enough." Trump's account was at odds with the private assessment of others who attended the meeting.
Later in the speech, Trump called Heitkamp "a good woman," and said he hoped she would support his tax reform plan, which as of Wednesday was still little more than a loosely defined set of principles. Heitkamp smiled, but did not address the crowd. Trump also asked his daughter Ivanka Trump to briefly join him on stage.
Much of Trump's speech mirrored an address he gave in Springfield, Missouri, last week, calling for a simpler tax code, a lower corporate tax rate and the closing of loopholes for "special interests."
"Our business tax rate highest in developed world, we're dead last," Trump said, repeating a falsehood which has been repeatedly debunked. The U.S. corporate tax rate "is nothing more than a crushing tax on every product made in America," he continued, "so we're going to reduce the tax rate on American business, so we can keep jobs in America."
Trump encouraged the crowd, comprised of local politicos and employees of the Andeavor energy company, which hosted the event, to "demand tax cuts and tax reform that will put America first," and to reject legislators at the ballot box who don't back the reform plan.
"It is our time to invest in our country," Trump said. "We want to build beautiful new communities and rebuild the old ones, and we want to make America great again."