Many Democrats might not want to be photographed alongside a smiling President Donald Trump, but then there’s Joe Manchin III.
Trump has been very popular in Manchin’s West Virginia. And Manchin was one of three Democratic senators who showed up for dinner and a tax overhaul discussion with the president Tuesday evening.
Trump appears to be making a genuine effort to court moderate Democrats as part of the upcoming debate over how to really rewrite the tax code for the first time since 1986, even if competing priorities eventually lead to a partisan plan.
After the meeting, Manchin, the Mountaineer State’s senior senator, signaled there’s a chance he could support a tax overhaul if it is revenue-neutral.
“I look forward to working with the President, the Administration and my Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle on tax reform and going through regular order so we can help all Americans and West Virginians prosper,” Manchin said in a statement.
Democrats and Republicans have differing views on what exactly would not increase the federal deficit, with conservative budgeteers generally more willing to assume that the economy will grow as a result of cutting taxes, particularly on businesses.
The other Senate Democrats at the meeting were Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Donnelly, Heitkamp and Manchin are on the ballot in 2018, and all three are in races rated as Tossups by Inside Elections With Nathan Gonzales/Roll Call.
“I had another good conversation with President Trump about my proposal to address the outsourcing of American jobs. I am pleased he remains supportive of my proposal, and I believe that tax reform should include measures to support companies that invest in our workers and penalize companies that ship American jobs to foreign countries,” Donnelly said in a statement. “I am hopeful we can work together to encourage domestic investments that benefit American workers.”
Heitkamp already received Trump’s tax pitch when she accompanied him aboard Air Force One on a trip to North Dakota.
The North Dakota Democrat said in a statement that she was pleased Trump invited members of both parties to the dinner on Tuesday.
“Tonight we had a good discussion and I reinforced that any tax reform bill must support working families and family farmers so they aren’t burdened with debt and it must stand up for retirees who want to live their remaining years with dignity while also simplifying the tax code and lowering compliance burdens,” Heitkamp said. “As North Dakota’s former tax commissioner, I understand how much these issues directly impact North Dakota families, farmers, and workers — which is why any tax reform plan must be done with their best interest in mind.”
Senate Republicans can pass a tax overhaul without any Democratic support using budget reconciliation, but the ill-fated GOP effort to use the expedited process to roll back the 2010 health care law shows the limitations of such a plan.