White House economic adviser Gary Cohn reportedly quipped in a meeting this year with Senate Democrats that "only morons pay the estate tax."
A source close to Cohn told The New York Times that Cohn hadn't actually used the word "morons," and was actually talking about "rich people with really bad tax planning." However, the Times suggested the comment Cohn made in regards to "the wisdom and cost of repealing the estate tax" — one of President Trump's signature pledges — is illustrative of Cohn's lacking understanding of the political process driving tax reform:
He is facile with data and has a keen understanding of the economy, according to people who have attended meetings with him, and he moved quickly to hire several experienced and well-connected aides — including Jeremy Katz, his deputy, and Shahira Knight, a former tax-writing congressional aide — who have been drivers in the private talks with Congress.
But Mr. Cohn has also rankled lawmakers in both parties with comments that they suggest betray a lack of understanding about the political process and the intricate policy trade-offs that undergird a large tax rewrite. [The New York Times]
Cohn, alongside Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, is leading the charge on crafting the White House's strategy for tax reform. But right now, investors' consensus is that it isn't "going to get done this year," Stephen Moore, a Heritage Foundation economist who advised the Trump campaign, told the Times. "They are facing big frustration among policy makers, the business community, and investors that there's been months of inaction."