At the end of Monday's town hall meeting on her father's tax reform plan at a senior center in Richboro, Ivanka Trump flashed a grin at the audience. "Is there anything more invigorating," she asked, "than getting out of Washington?"
It was the most Trumpian thing she'd said all day, after a session spent soberly discussing the merits — but not too many of the details — of the Republican plan to overhaul the tax code.
Ivanka Trump, a senior White House adviser as well as presidential progeny, characterized the plan as an improvement for working-class families — in particular a proposed expansion of the child tax credit, which she advocated on the campaign trail.
Trump said she was pushing to have that tax credit made refundable — which analysts have said could go a long way toward helping low- and middle-income families defray the costs of raising a child. But the administration has not outlined some key elements of that plan, including how much it plans to expand the credit. On Monday, Ivanka Trump didn't get that far, either.
With moderator Nan Hayworth, a former House member from New York, and U.S. Treasurer Jovita Carranza, Trump spent about an hour conversing with a crowd of around 200 at the James Kinney Senior Center. The women on stage talked about fiscal issues facing ordinary Americans: how complicated it can be to file taxes, how many Americans don't have more than a few hundred dollars saved in case of an emergency, and how important it is to prepare students for jobs in a technology-driven economy.
But, Trump said, the administration is also banking on cutting the corporate tax rate, which it believes will spur growth and trickle down to workers. The administration wants to keep new businesses in the country, she said. "Younger entrepreneurs, as they're assessing the global dynamics around where they should start and headquarter their businesses, it's not this city vs. that city," Trump said. "It's this country vs. that country, and as a young person is starting their entrepreneurial endeavor, there's a lot more latitude to pick up and move."
Carranza nodded, then noted how many recent college graduates have defaulted on their student loans.
"A rising tide," Trump said, "lifts all boats."
She said the administration's focus on deregulation works in tandem with its tax plan, designed to boost the economy by rescinding industry regulations that people were "losing sleep over."
Legislatively, though, her father's administration was "laser-focused" on tax reform, she said. No tax bill has yet been written, and the provisions under discussion are subject to change. For instance, on Monday, President Trump promised on Twitter to leave 401(k) plans alone. Republican lawmakers had been considering placing limits on the popular retirement benefit's tax breaks as a way of helping to pay for tax cuts.
After a week in which her father had pumped his tax plan in between sparring with critics over his handling of a bereavement call to a Gold Star widow and tweeting about football players kneeling during the national anthem, the farthest Ivanka Trump strayed from taxes was a series of comments about the importance of women in science and technology fields, telling a pair of seventh graders in the audience that it was an issue she was particularly passionate about.
She left a question about whether the tax plan could actually get passed in an increasingly divided Congress — met with knowing laughter from the audience — to Carranza: "We're here to make sure it does get passed," the treasurer said, to applause.
Bucks County is represented by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a first-term Republican who has at times defied GOP leaders, including on President Trump's push to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The president narrowly won Fitzpatrick's Eighth District, 48.2 percent to 48 percent for Hillary Clinton, according to calculations by the political website Daily Kos.
A small group of protesters waved signs outside the senior center before Trump's arrival; Lois Pflueger, 67, who voted for President Trump in the primaries but switched to the Democratic Party last year, said she had heard about the event on Facebook and made a sign for her first protest. She was worried about a number of the administration's policies, but is "infuriated" about the tax plan's proposal to cut the estate tax, which didn't get a mention at the town hall. High-income estates "are the ones that should have to be paying," she said.
Inside, attendees said they had enjoyed the event and the chance to get close to Ivanka Trump: "She's always poised and perfect," said Joan Cullen, a school board member from the Pennridge School District. She said she was particularly struck by the need to simplify the tax code: "It needs to be something we can all navigate," she said. As for the rest of the news that's surrounded Ivanka's father this week? "Trump is Trump," she said. "We have to start looking at separating his missteps on a personal level from the work he's doing."