The Note: Newest tax bill could be defining moment for Trump's presidency

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on tax policy with business leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Oct. 31, 2017, in Washington.PlayEvan Vucci/AP
WATCH The Note: Newest tax bill could be defining moment for Trump's presidency

The TAKE with Rick Klein

You can call it tax reform, or a tax cut, or even the Cut Cut Cut Bill.

Very soon you won't be able to call it a hypothetical. And the struggles to even unveil it - as the House Ways and Means Committee hopes to do today - should be instructive about how much ground still needs to be covered, and how much is at stake for Republicans.

It is being cast as a test of Trump's legislative pull, as the last best shot at a major achievement in Congress this year. It's actually more than that – a test of Trump's commitment to championing the cause of those who brought him to office.

We know now that the bill is likely to limit 401(k) contributions – despite Trump's explicit vow that there will be "NO change to your 401(k)." It will also almost certainly mean a tax hike for millions of middle-income Americans in higher-tax states – despite the president's recent assurance that it will be a "middle-class bill."

That's the constituency – the middle class – that needs to be on board for tax reform to go through Congress, in this or any political environment.

When those closed doors open today that work will get underway.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

The House is also expected to begin a series of votes today to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Congress let funding expire at the end of September for the incredibly popular program, which provides low-cost health insurance for an estimated 9 million children and 370,000 pregnant women nationwide each year.

Without federal funds this month, states have had to dip into savings to cover costs and some have warned they may have to start limiting enrollment soon.

While the House bill will likely be welcome news for state governments, considerable uncertainty remains. A partisan bill is moving through the Senate, but leadership there is still looking for ways to offset costs.

Big picture: the fact that a program like CHIP, with wide bipartisan support, is being pushed to the brink shows just how hard it has been for this Congress to pass any legislation and how difficult all coming votes may be in the next few months.

The president yesterday only further complicated an already messy legislative landscape going into the end of the year, when he restated that hard-line immigration policies were top priorities for him.

The TIP with Tara Palmeri

Liberal super PAC American Bridge has snapped up the website in anticipation of the rollout of the Republican tax plan on Thursday, since President Donald Trump has insisted to Republican leaders that the bill be dubbed "The Cut Cut Cut Act."

The URL redirects to, which describes Trump's tax cut plan as, "Betraying his campaign promises by selling out the middle class – and now helping kill and outsource American jobs."

"We went ahead and bought the domain," said economic policy spokesperson Andrew Bates in an e-mail to ABC News.

Bate's said the site has a new digital ad that describes how the tax reform plan is a "giveaway to large corporations and the rich, that millions of middle class people would face a tax increase, and that the proposal threatens more American jobs with outsourcing."

"Thought it would be an effective way to get ahead of the tax plan release."


  • Paul Manafort and Rick Gates are back in U.S. District Court for a "status hearing" which will focus on the conditions of their release and each of their bonds.
  • Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign, is scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee.
  • President Trump called for the New York City terror suspect to get the death penalty in a late-night tweet Wednesday after the suspect was charged with providing support to ISIS. Trump earlier condemned the United States criminal justice system and labeled Saipov an "animal."
  • Top lawyers for Google, Facebook and Twitter admitted to senators Wednesday that efforts to combat Russian activity on their platforms during the election were insufficient and are still unclear of the Russian online influence efforts.
  • Vice President Mike Pence meets with local Florida businesses, community leaders and families to discuss tax reform.
  • Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodriguez holds a press conference at the National Press Club.
  • The president meets with Republican senators, makes a jobs announcement, and names his pick to head the Federal Reserve.
  • House Republicans were still scrambling Wednesday to negotiate their tax overhaul ahead of today's planned release.

    "I'm not under investigation, as you know," - President Donald Trump said in a telephone interview with the New York Times on Wednesday in recent discussions of his former campaign chief, Paul Manafort's indictment and his involvement with the Russia probe.


  • American troops caught in deadly Niger ambush told to proceed despite mission concern. The operation in Niger that led to the death of four American soldiers was not a reconnaissance mission, as initially described by U.S. officials, but instead a kill or capture mission conducted without additional support requested by Nigerien forces, four senior Nigerien officials told ABC News. (Ian Pannell, Kirit Radia and Elizabeth McLaughlin)
  • 'The Cut Cut Cut Act:' Trump, Hill leaders differ on tax overhaul bill's name. Less than 24 hours before the bill is slated to be revealed, the name of the bill has still not been settled and there is still dispute over the name. (Tara Palmeri)
  • House tax plan would lower caps on 401(k)s, cut state and local deductions.
  • The bill, as of Wednesday, would lower what individuals may contribute tax-free to their 401(k)s, to an amount about halfway between the current limit and what House Republicans initially proposed. (Jonathan Karl, Mary Bruce and Benjamin Siegel)

  • GOP senator to Bannon: Russia 'would love nothing' more than for US to drop probe.
  • Responding to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., defended the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into foreign meddling in the 2016 election, saying that the Russians would welcome his committee dropping the ongoing probe. (John Verhovek)

  • Trump calls for death penalty for NYC terror suspect, considers him an 'enemy combatant'. President Donald Trump called for the New York City terror suspect to get the death penalty in a late-night tweet Wednesday just hours after Sayfullo Saipov was charged with providing support to ISIS and violence and destruction of motor vehicles. (Alexander Mallin and Adam Kelsey)
  • Inside Trump and Schumer's war of words over diversity visa lottery program. The morning after the horrific truck attack in New York City, President Donald Trump was up early tweeting that he blames a program supported by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer for allowing the assailant, originally from Uzbekistan, to immigrate to the United States. (Ali Rogin)
  • Facebook, Twitter and Google still don't have full picture of Russian interference, lawyers say. Top lawyers for Google, Facebook and Twitter admitted to senators Wednesday that efforts to combat Russian activity on their platforms during the election were insufficient and said that they still don't have a full picture of the Russian online influence effort. (Benjamin Siegel)
  • Hillary Clinton defends funding anti-Trump dossier in late-night interview. In a late-night interview Wednesday on "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah," former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said there was a difference between her campaign paying for legal opposition research and Trump's team possibly working with Russia to influence the election. (Karma Allen)
  • Reuters reports that Facebook profit trounces estimates as ad sales rise. Facebook reported better-than-expected quarterly profit and revenue on Wednesday as it pushed further into video advertising in a quarter dominated by reports that Russia allegedly used the social network to meddle in the 2016 U.S. elections.
  • Is Kim Jong Un terrified of South Korean soaps? The House Foreign Affairs committee got a rare insight into the mindset and motivations of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from the highest ranking defector ever to flee the north, former deputy ambassador to the United Kingdom Thae Yong-ho. (Steve Turnham)
  • Michael Flynn faces legal peril in Washington. In his Rhode Island hometown, he's revered. USA Today reports that locals of Flynn's hometown show up unannounced, with cash and checks to drop off at William Flynn's accounting firm according to his brother, Jack Flynn.
  • The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.