GOP Senators Want Focus on Tax Reform Win Over Flynn

WASHINGTON – Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) said he is “troubled” by the possibility of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn testifying against President Trump and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner but said he is “anxious” to move on from the Russia controversy.

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) told PJM that Senate Republicans have decided to focus on the anticipated economic benefits of their tax reform package rather than comment on the Flynn developments.

Stocks closed lower on Friday after news broke that Flynn, who pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI and indicated he’s working with special counsel investigators, would reportedly testify that Trump directed him to contact Russia’s ambassador to the United States while Barack Obama was still president.

The report from ABC News’ was later corrected, and ABC suspended Ross over the error.

“I’ve seen the rumors on it. I’ll wait and find out what the actual story is. We’ve just decided that here in the Senate, most of us, we are going to wait for the actual outcomes to show up. In the meantime, we’re going to focus on the tax reform package,” Rounds told PJM on Friday evening hours before the Senate passed the tax reform bill on a 51-49 vote.

“We need to be able to show the American public, if we want the consumer confidence to be there, they’re expecting that we get our work done and a tax reform package gets delivered,” he added.

Trump told reporters today he feels “very badly” for Flynn.

Perdue predicted that any Flynn testimony would not “implicate” Trump.

“Look, I can’t comment on what might be said. I understand that [Flynn has] done this. I’m troubled by that, but in no way does that implicate the president from what I’ve seen so far and I’m anxious to get this behind us. I mean, I think the president has already been exonerated so many ways. I mean, the past FBI Director Comey has looked at it, you know, we find no implication here so I’m anxious to get this behind us,” he said.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Sunday that an obstruction of justice case is coming together.

“I think we see this in the indictments, the four indictments and pleas that have just taken place and some of the comments that are being made,” she told NBC.

Amid the Flynn controversy, Republican leaders continue to work on moving a tax reform bill to President Trump’s desk, with the House and Senate versions going to conference. On Saturday, Trump signaled a willingness to agree to a corporate tax rate slightly above the 20 percent rate that is part of the House and Senate bills. The U.S. currently has the highest corporate tax rate among nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development at 38.9 percent. In 2012, President Obama called for a 28 percent corporate tax rate but the proposal never made its way through Congress.

Rounds said the corporate tax rate reduction in the tax reform bill is not going to make the U.S. the “most competitive” industrialized nation but “at least we’ll be competitive once again.” Rounds disagreed with Democrats who have argued that the GOP’s corporate tax rate reduction is a giveaway to their donors.

“It’s simply not true. What this is based on is the international corporate competition that’s going on right now. There are some places that are actually more competitive than us right now with the existing corporate rate. We’ve lost 4,700 businesses that have left the United States overseas and taken jobs with them and their investment dollars with them,” Rounds told PJM.

“We want to bring those back but we also want other businesses to stay here and to grow. Some of those businesses that are overseas will actually return and they’ll do investments here in the United States again. They’ll start adding jobs here in the United States again – that’s what this is all about,” he added.

Perdue was asked for his response to Democrats who do not think companies are going to use the savings from the tax cut to create jobs.

“Look, if corporations bring that money back and pay some of it in dividends, guess what that money does? That gets reversed into the economy, a good bit of it, one way or the other, either in investment, consumption or whatever – that’s just a perfect example of Democrats who believe that money should go to the government and have a big-government solution,” Perdue replied.

“We believe that money will flow back into the economy, whether it goes back to training, new equipment, hiring new people or in pay raises. I’m a business guy, 45 years in business, the best thing we can do for the American worker is to get our corporate tax rate competitive and eliminate this repatriation tax,” he added.

The Joint Committee on Taxation estimate released Thursday found that the tax reform plan bill would add $1 trillion to the national debt. Despite the JCT analysis, GOP senators said economic growth would pay for the tax cuts over a 10-year period.

“Economic growth produces more revenue and that will help to offset this tax cut and actually lower the debt,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Sunday.

Rounds said the tax reform bill would help prevent the existing deficit from rising.

“Our intent is that it does not add to the deficit, it actually gives us additional revenue net overall – over the 10-year period of time. I think it help us to reduce the existing $400-600 billion deficit that’s going to continue to climb if we do not do something. And with this tax reform package, we’ll actually have a growing economy that will contribute additional revenue, even at the reduced rates,” Rounds told PJM on Friday. “We’ll not only make up for the tax rate reductions over the current projections, it will actually give us additional revenue to take care of our ongoing expenses.”