Last week the release of Trump and the ‘Big 6’s plan to rewrite the U.S. tax code has seen a ready-steady-go convergence on K Street. The lobbying industry has not so much been gifted by what was in the nine page document, but more what remains left out. Unsurprisingly perhaps Trump’s plan to overhaul the tax code, stretching thousands of pages long, is far from fully spelt out in last week’s initial document. Former Republican congressmen turned lobbyist, Thomas M. Reynolds summarized the concerns of industry saying ‘you’re either going to be at the table, or you’re going to be on the table’. Whilst recent lobbying efforts surrounding Obamacare repeal were concentrated among a limited number of industries, almost every industry, special interest and consumer group has an interest in the tax code.
Whilst the document spelt out some core ambitions, to slash corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, the creation of a new 25% tax rate for ‘pass through’ businesses, a lowering of the top individual tax rate from 35% to 39.9% and a raising of the bottom rate from 10% to 12%, other elements remain ambiguous. The New York Times highlighted this ambiguity on Page 8. The substance of the page refers to vague plans to repeal or roll back numerous exclusions and deductions, to ‘modernize’ tax rules affecting certain industries, and to ‘ensure that the tax code better reflects economic reality and that such rules provide little opportunity for tax avoidance’. With such language, Thomas M. Reynolds assertion that business will ‘not have to be encouraged to engage’ appears to hold weight; figures from the congressional lobbying disclosures show that from the beginning of the year to the end of last week companies and trade associations have submitted near-on 450 filings to lobby on tax issues, compare with fewer than 265 in all of 2016. Whilst for the optimist, the language from last week’s document could indicate a unique opportunity to go on the offensive, with bubbling pressure from deficit concerned Republicans to ‘foot the bill’, others may go into the forthcoming weeks cautiously focusing on a defensive campaign to maintain current interests.