House Republican leaders are vowing to use their summer recess to lobby heavily for their tax reform agenda, with House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady telling MSNBC this morning that the “goal” is a deficit-neutral plan.
“Where we’re going on tax reform, which is what I’m excited about, and I think frankly most of my colleagues are as well, and the American people, is exactly why Republicans came to Congress,” said Brady, who stressed that the House already “delivered” on the Obamacare repeal and replace that didn’t pass the Senate.
“In August, we’re going to make the case directly to the American people about the need for tax reform. And lay out — last week there was a lot going on, as you know. But what a lot of people missed was a pretty important step on tax reform, which is the White House, the House, the Senate coming together on some key bold principles so there is unity in that direction,” he added.
Brady said lawmakers have been running tax reform on a “parallel track” to healthcare since the beginning of the 115th Congress, but “August is going to be key” on whether healthcare gets a final push.
“Whatever we do in tax reform, we really want businesses to make a long-term investment decisions that drive jobs, drive paychecks, in a big way. So my view is tax reform needs to be permanent. And so to do that, it has to balance within the budget. The House Republican blueprint does that,” he said.
There will “be a major public campaign,” the chairman promised, including business groups, family organizations and members of Congress. “It’s about unifying behind principles. It’s about urgency. This needs to be done this year to get the economy going.”
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), ranking member of the House Ways and Means Tax Policy Subcommittee, told Bloomberg TV that he hopes lawmakers “can move forward in a bipartisan way to work from the middle out instead from the top down.”
“The real question is have Republicans learned anything from this debacle on the healthcare tax cuts. They kept their proposal under lock and key, they roll out on stealth and secrecy rejecting all Democratic alternatives. If they want to work together on legitimate tax reform, we have a basis for doing so, and I would welcome that opportunity,” Doggett said.
The House Dem said he wants to see three principles: “Number one is don’t borrow from the Saudis and the Chinese to finance these tax cuts. We don’t need more national debt. Number two, let’s follow the Mnuchin rule that we will not widen the income inequality in our country that this isn’t just another tax cut like the healthcare repeal to help those at the very top. And number three, let’s consider fairness for all businesses in our country with any business tax reform. It’s just not right that Pfizer gets off with paying a fraction of the corporate tax rates that applies to the corner pharmacy.”
Doggett said he believes getting below the 28 percent level for the corporate tax rate “will be a real challenge, perhaps not impossible, but the idea that you could drop it on down to 15 percent is just not realistic, and I think anything getting below 28 percent, in fact, even getting to 28 percent is a real challenge.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) emphasized Sunday on Fox that it’s “more important for us than anything that we get tax reform done because we think it’s absolutely critical for strong economic growth.”
Ryan said lawmakers will find revenue elsewhere to offset tax cuts.
“I think the Trump plan that he put out, the President put out earlier in the year fits our preferences. I think his rates were 10, 25 and 35,” he said. “That’s the kind of thing that we were looking at.”
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is reportedly pushing a 44 percent tax on people earning more than $5 million a year. The top rate is currently 39.6 percent.
“We’re in the business of lowering tax rates; we are not in the business of raising tax rates,” Ryan said.