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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 18th August 2017 > THE SWAMP WILL SEE YOU NOW


Why Trump’s attempt to change the tax code may wind up drowning in partisan muck

IT WAS A rare moment of optimism in Washington— and one that both parties could enjoy.

On a crisp fall day in 1986, President Ronald Reagan sat at a desk on a stage on the White House’s South Lawn and signed a historic bill that changed the American tax code. Among its biggest backers: New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, a Democrat, and New York Representative Jack Kemp, a Republican. Remarkably, the bipartisan law accomplished what lawmakers on the left and right had long advocated—eliminating crazy deductions and using that money to lower tax rates. “Millions of working poor will be dropped from the tax rolls altogether,” Reagan said. “We’re going to make it economical to raise children again. Flatter rates will mean more reward for that extra effort, and vanishing loopholes and a minimum tax will mean that everybody and every corporation pay their fair share.”

More than 30 years later, Republicans and Democrats are trying to revive that bipartisan spirit, and some are optimistic—at least publicly—that a sweeping tax bill is possible. “It is time to unleash the full potential of the American economy by creating a tax code that actually works for the middle class,” says House Speaker Paul Ryan. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin agrees: “This is about creating a fair tax system that’s good for the average, middle-class person.” Earlier this summer, dozens of Democratic senators offered to work with the GOP on a tax bill, provided it didn’t hurt the middle class.

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LOVER'S QUARREL Russian President Vladimir Putin believed Donald Trump was a man with whom he could do business, a pragmatist willing to leave the Kremlin alone in exchange for support against terrorism. Putin thought he had finally found an American president that he could rely on, he was wrong.