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Trump predicts passage of tax plan

WASHINGTON (AP)  One day before the big reveal, President Donald Trump intensified his lobbying Tuesday for a tax overhaul plan whose shape was still under negotiation by congressional Republicans. The president predicted a grand signing ceremony before Christmas at "the biggest tax event in the history of our country."

"The process is complicated but the end result will not be that complicated. It's going to be: People are going to pay less tax by a lot, companies are going to pay less tax by a lot  that's a big difference  and companies are going to start rebuilding and they're going to stay here," Trump said in the Roosevelt Room, where he was joined by the heads of more than a dozen business and trade allies.

Trump said he's directing Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, White House economic adviser Gary Cohn and other administration officials to stay behind when he heads for Asia on Friday so they can help sell the tax proposal. The White House said Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and adviser, had canceled plans to accompany the president to China and South Korea to help push the package.

Trump and congressional Republicans are seeking the first major tax overhaul in three decades, eager for a significant legislative achievement after being stymied in their attempts to repeal the Obama-era health care law. Enacting a tax package is seen as critical to helping Republicans maintain their majorities in the 2018 elections.

The president said he was hopeful the House will approve the tax bill by Thanksgiving and that he can sign it into law by Christmas. But his overly optimistic timetable didn't address the concerns of lawmakers from states such as New York and New Jersey who have opposed a proposal to eliminate the federal deduction for state and local taxes, arguing it would hurt their constituents and subject them to being taxed twice.

One day before the plan was to be unveiled, legislators still were engaged in high-stakes negotiations over what deductions will stay and what will go.

The head of the House tax-writing committee, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, has said that taxpayers will be able to continue to deduct local property taxes on their federal returns but the deduction for state income taxes would be repealed. The change means there would be three itemized deductions retained: for home mortgage interest, charitable donations and local property taxes.

The National Association of Home Builders, meanwhile, has withdrawn its support for the plan because it does not believe it contains enough tax benefits for home owners.

Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told Trump that the business groups would continue to "work on it. We're going to have some differences amongst the business community on what should be the takeaways and the adds."

"I think your planning is really quite good: You're off to Asia and everybody else gets it worked out," Donohue said to laughter.

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