Columns

Caucus Chairman: Ryan's Rollout of Tax Reform Better Than Obamacare Repeal 'Debacle'

Reporters follow Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) across the street as he leaves the House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington on May 17, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON – Following the GOP’s latest failure to repeal and replace Obamacare, Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) on Tuesday praised House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for rolling out a framework of the Republican tax reform proposal.

“I do want to pause for a moment and compliment Speaker Ryan and our leadership team for the rollout and the efficiency that this was rolled out, specifically compared to the debacle that the repeal of Obamacare was,” Walker said at the Heritage Foundation, while lauding the “proactive work” from Ryan’s camp.

President Trump, Ryan and Republican leadership recently released initial details on the framework, which would serve as the first major tax code overhaul in more than 30 years.

Highlights of the proposal include cutting the corporate tax rate from about 35 percent to 20 percent, doubling the standard deduction and eliminating the estate tax. Democrats immediately blasted the proposal as a tax cut for the extremely wealthy, pointing to the $269 billion tax break they say the estate tax repeal would deliver. Republicans have also proposed lowering rates by consolidating seven tax brackets into three.

Walker, who is chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said that the Democrats’ talking points on tax reform were expected.

“We should never be in a position where we do anything based on what our friends on the left think we should or shouldn’t do, and here’s what I mean by that,” Walker said. “The talking points on the left – the die is already cast. ‘This is going to be a tax cut for the rich, tax cuts for the wealthy.’”

The North Carolina lawmaker accused Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) of wrongfully claiming that Republicans have proposed hiking the tax rate for America’s lowest earners from 10 percent to 12 percent.

Schumer went after Ryan’s proposal last weekend, telling the House speaker to “get real” via Twitter. “GOP #TaxReform plan & what @SpeakerRyan says about it are 2 diff things. Says plan is for middle class but 80% is for wealthy-Get real Paul,” Schumer tweeted.

Ryan and Republicans have repeatedly stated that the tax reform plan is about putting more money into the pockets of middle-class Americans and freeing corporations from heavy tax burdens so that they can pass along those savings in the form of raises and jobs. Republicans also claim that the tax plan will incentivize corporations to return offshore money to the U.S.

Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) said that there is an estimated $2.6 trillion parked overseas that would be freed up under the GOP proposal. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) noted that even Canada has a lower corporate tax rate than the U.S. Duncan added that there comes a point when tax rates are so high that it disincentivizes corporations from contributing to the economy. Barr pointed to the Congressional Budget Office’s finding that more than 70 percent of corporate income taxes are passed onto workers in the form of lower wages and fewer jobs.

“That’s what happens when you raise the corporate income tax to a confiscatory, anti-growth level the way it is right now, so if you are concerned about income inequality, if you are worried about wage stagnation in America, and many of our friends on the other side of the aisle profess to be concerned about that, we all are concerned about that,” Barr said.

Walker said that the policies of the previous administration speak to the arrogance of the federal government, which has been telling Americans “that they better know how to spend” their earnings.