As President Trump and Republicans pivot to tax reform, GOP lawmakers are already wavering on the White House's 20 percent 'red line,' the proposed new corporate tax rate.
The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that there's already talk on Capitol Hill that it may slip to 22 percent or 23 percent, sources close to negotiations told the paper.
'That's the one part of the bill that's not negotiable,' Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC Thursday morning, responding to the LA Times' reporting.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appeared on CNBC Thursday morning and drew a line in the sand saying the tax plan must push the corporate tax rate down to 20 percent, calling it 'not negotiable'
President Trump told truckers and others gathered in Harrisburg Wednesday that the corporate tax rate would be slashed by 20 percent and his tax plan, overall, would give Americans 'so much money'
The White House has very little room for error with such a slim majority in the Senate and will have to get traditional fiscal hawks like Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky. (left), and Ted Cruz, R-Texas (right), on board
The White House has Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., to worry about as well. A fiscal hawk, Corker and President Trump have been feuding all week, with Corker labeling the White House an 'adult day care center' and saying Trump could put the U.S. on the path toward 'World War III'
'The president has made it clear he wants 20 percent,' Mnuchin also said. 'We want 20 percent on corporate taxes, that's what we need to make America competitive,' the treasury secretary said.
Currently the statutory corporate tax rate is 38.9 percent, though deductions and credits decrease that percentage for many U.S. companies.
Trump had originally pushed for a 15 percent corporate tax rate, as he's pledged to Americans to give them the largest tax cut in history.
'You're going to have so much money to spend,' he said at his pro-tax reform rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, yesterday, trying to make the case that even the corporate cuts would help average Americans, giving each household as much as $4,000 a year.
A senior official couldn't say how the White House arrived at that number on a call with reporters previewing the trip Monday.
White House economics adviser Kevin Hassett said the figure came from companies returning 71 percent of their foreign profits back to the U.S. over the course of eight years, a revenue boost that comes from another aspect of the Trump tax plan.
Actual legislation hasn't dropped yet, with one LA Times source from the lobbying world saying, 'Everything is fluid right now.'
At that same rally Wednesday, Trump told the crowd that the corporate tax rate would be 'no more than 20 percent.'
'They're making the highest laws of the land and might not…
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But even at 20 percent, Republicans are running into resistance from both lawmakers and lobbyists who want to keep some of the pre-existing loopholes and deductions on the books.
Negotiators told the LA Times that the White House may have to be flexible with this number if the president plans to only get Republicans on board.
In the Senate, the president can only afford to lose two GOP senators.
Trump has more wiggle room in the House where he can lose about 20 Republican members and still push legislation through.
This summer's Obamacare skinny repeal defeat happened when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., cast a surprise no vote, after Republicans had already lost the votes of Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
This time around the Trump White House will have to court fiscal hawks, worried that cutting the corporate tax rate will add to the deficit.
The GOP tax plan has been estimated by outside groups to add about $2 trillion to the deficit over the next decade.
CNBC host Joe Kernen specifically brought up Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Ted Cruz, R-Texas and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., as potential troublemakers for the administration.
Cruz and Paul are two senators traditionally concerned about the nation's debt.
So is Corker, but the president has made things more personal in recent days, going on a Twitter tirade about the retiring Tennessee senator Sunday, setting off a feud.
'It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center,' Corker responded. 'Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.'
Later that day, Corker talked to the New York Times and said he worried that Trump was setting the U.S. on the path toward 'World War III.'
Since then, the White House and Corker have sparred over the senator's role in the Iran deal, elongating the tiff for several more days.