WASHINGTON – Conservatives are as unified on tax reform efforts as they have been on anything else, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said today as he continues to push the GOP’s tax overhaul plan.
“I feel very, very good where we are with respect to everybody rowing in the same boat in the same direction, and that’s not always the case,” Ryan said at the Heritage Foundation.
Ryan’s comments come in the same week that a group of prominent conservatives joined together in calling for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to resign, claiming that he has cost the GOP nearly “a year of victories.” Tea Party-linked FreedomWorks, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots Jenny Beth Martin and president of the Senate Conservatives Fund Ken Cuccunelli wrote a letter to McConnell on Wednesday asking for his resignation.
“He has demonstrated that he either does not understand the frustration coming from conservatives and the urgency of passing key legislation – or he does not care,” the group wrote.
While discussing the failed effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, Ryan said that GOPs are doing more work on the front end with tax reform “to get everyone on the same page, to agree on this framework,” calling it four months of “spade work.” A number of healthcare proposals were considered in the Senate before the Graham-Cassidy amendment ultimately failed to gain enough support within the party.
Senate Republicans in September introduced a draft budget resolution for fiscal 2018, which called for tax reform through budget reconciliation, meaning the Senate can pass reform with a majority vote. Ryan said the goal is to have reform considered in the Senate in November and have it approved and ready for the new year. Ryan said that with an agreed-upon framework, tax writers on the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee will fill in the rest of the details.
“We’re going to keep everybody here until Christmas if we have to. I mean, I don’t care. We’ve got to get this done. It’s just that important,” Ryan said. “We want to wake up New Year’s Day with a new tax system – because if we get a new tax system in the beginning of 2018, that means all of 2018 is a good year where we can get 3 percent growth.”
Highlights of the GOP’s tax framework include cutting the corporate tax rate from about 35 percent to 20 percent, nearly doubling the standard deduction, increasing the Child Tax Credit and eliminating the estate tax. Ryan said on Thursday that consolidating the current seven brackets into three or four will mean lower tax rates at every income level for families.
Democrats have railed against the GOP’s framework, calling it a massive tax cut for America’s elite. Democratic lawmakers have taken particular issue with the proposal to eliminate the estate tax, which Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has said will result in a $269 billion break for the nation’s top 0.2 percent.
Ryan and Republicans claim that the proposed tax cuts will free up American companies to offer more jobs and better wages, which in turn means more money in American families’ pockets and a higher standard of living. He noted today that the difference between an economy growing at 2 percent and 3 percent is a difference of trillions of dollars.
“We allow stagnation to become our way of life, and you know as well as I do that if we fail to restore real growth and opportunity that plays directly into the hands of the left,” Ryan said. “We will go from having the worst tax code among the industrialized nations to one of the most competitive.”
Ryan said he anticipates gaining votes from Democrats on the tax bill, as he “can’t imagine” Democratic lawmakers in the Midwest voting against the interests of farmers, ranchers and small-business owners.