Over the summer, President Donald Trump invited House Republicans to the White House Rose Garden to tout the passage of an Obamacare repeal bill through their chamber. It was a premature celebration, one that looked particularly silly when the Senate failed repeatedly to follow suit months later.
On Wednesday afternoon, the president brought GOP lawmakers over to the White House again—this time to celebrate the real thing.
For roughly half an hour, the president and Republican allies from Capitol Hill boasted of passing a major tax package that will, largely, benefit the wealthy and corporations. And, in true Trumpian fashion, he cast it as a prolonged fight between the winners and the losers.
"It's always a lot of fun when you win," Trump made sure to note, shortly after giving kudos to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the latter of whom he has repeatedly feuded with privately, as well as publicly.
Despite the pomp and circumstance, however, the law remains deeply unpopular, with most voters of the belief that their individual taxes are slated to rise. In fact, the majority of taxpayers will see a decline in taxes in the near-term, though that could change in the latter years of the law, when those individual rates expire.
“We believe that the way the bill has been characterized in many cases has been misleading,” a senior White House official told reporters during a press briefing on Wednesday.
Republican lawmakers also were celebrating a major legislative win at the precise moment when the rest of the legislative docket remains stagnant. Shortly before they gathered with Trump to applaud the slashing of taxes, news broke that they’d failed to advance a bill that would re-authorize a program providing healthcare to 9 million children.
Senate aides told The Daily Beast they expected the debate over funding the program, CHIP, to be resolved sometime in January. But that is just one of the many pressing issues that the Congress has left for the next year. The others include protections for undocumented children, money for community health centers, and the funding of the actual government.
Sources close to the White House said on Wednesday that they were fully anticipating the possibility that this brew of major items could result in a government shutdown, thereby negating some of the economic gains that the tax cuts would facilitate.
But the administration, for its part, argued that Wednesday legislative win puts them in a better political position for those upcoming fights.
“The reality is, [Americans are] going to get a tax cut,” a senior White House official said. “So we know we’re gonna be able to have the truth set us free.”