Sen. Thune opens up about tax reform dinner with President Trump

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RAPID CITY, S.D. -

After a pair of meetings, President Donald Trump said he's open to a tax reform bill where the wealthy may pay higher rates.

Tuesday night, the president hosted six senators — three Democrats and three Republicans — for a dinner and discussion on tax reform. Among the Republicans was Sen. John Thune (R-SD).

Thune said the president talked other issues like infrastructure, foreign policy, and health care, but the bulk of the discussion centered around taxes. Trump said his goal is to provide much-needed relief to the middle class, while also making the country more attractive to businesses that would otherwise move out of the country.

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Wednesday, the president said it's about time the U.S. adopts a fairer tax code to compete in trade.

"We're looking at a 15 percent rate. And we want a 15 percent rate because that would bring us low — not by any means the lowest — but it would bring us to a level where China and other countries are,” Trump said. “And we will be able to compete with anybody. Nobody will be able to touch us. So, we would like to see 15 percent."

Thune, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, opened up about Tuesday night's meeting on a media call with South Dakota media. He said the group spoke in great length about what the Democrats need to sign on.

"I was sort of trying to get a sense of what do you need in a tax bill, and most of the Democrats at the table last night made it pretty clear that it does have to be focused on middle-income families,” Thune said. “They don't want to see tax cuts going to people that are high-income learners."

Specifically, Thune gauged interest among Democratic senators Joe Donnelly (D- IN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) on what he calls a ‘dynamic scoring’ program. The idea, Thune said, would measure how tax relief is affecting Americans with analysis of the economy.

The White House is expected to roll out its ideas for tax reform in the coming weeks, while the Senate and House are already working on bills to achieve it.

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