The House’s top taxwriter affirmed his plans to produce tax reform legislation soon after Congress completes work on a fiscal 2018 budget resolution.
While House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady, R-Texas, declined to give details on the status of tax reform negotiations among congressional Republicans, he told reporters October 10 that once the budget is “signed, sealed, and delivered by both chambers, we will bring out the overall tax bill and begin House action.”
Brady’s remarks came three days after House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., predicted that tax reform legislation will pass the House in October. “I think that’s the plan,” Ryan said when asked on MSNBC's Hugh Hewitt if the bill would clear the House before the end of the month. He also reiterated his commitment to having updated tax laws in place by January 1, 2018.
“The train is on the tracks, and we’re moving,” Ryan said. “The whole purpose of this timeline is to get law this year . . . so Americans wake up in 2018 with a new tax system that is wired for growth, that gives middle-income people a real break on their taxes, that dramatically simplifies the system by getting rid of loopholes.”
On October 5 the House passed its budget resolution that includes reconciliation instructions to produce deficit-neutral tax reform legislation along with more than $200 billion in mandatory spending reductions. Later that day, the Senate Budget Committee voted to approve the upper chamber’s budget resolution.
While the Senate is in recess the week of October 9, Brady plans to hold listening sessions with the House Republican Conference to discuss tax reform for small businesses and corporations as well as issues affecting international taxation.
Corker Feud Won’t Disrupt Tax Reform
President Trump said October 10 he was not concerned that an intensifying dispute with Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., will affect tax reform. “I don't think so, no. I don't think so at all,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, according to a White House transcript. “I think we're well on our way. . . . The people of this country want tax cuts. They want lower taxes.”
Trump and Corker have traded insults on Twitter in recent days on non-tax issues.
Trump repeated his claims that the United States is the world’s highest-taxed country and will receive the largest tax cut in its history. “In addition to that, there will be reform,” he added. According to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, U.S. taxes as a share of GDP are lower than several countries, including Denmark, France, and Belgium.
Trump also reiterated his view that Americans desire tax cuts and reform, saying he is working on those. “And we'll be adjusting a little bit over the next few weeks to make it even stronger,” he added. “But I will tell you that it’s become very, very popular.”
Asked what adjustment Trump was referring to, a White House spokesperson said, “Obviously, we’re working with Congress as they put meat on the bones of the framework we jointly released. As the president noted, the policies outlined in the framework are very popular with the American people, and we’re working to keep it that way.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders similarly dismissed suggestions that Trump’s public feuds with Corker and other GOP members of Congress were alienating the very people he needs to advance his legislative agenda. She argued that by failing to pass legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Republican members brought the president’s criticism upon themselves.
“If anyone is being alienated, it’s people that are promising things and not delivering on them,” Sanders said at an October 10 briefing. She suggested that when Corker, who she noted has been described as a “fiscal hawk,” is finally presented with a bill that makes “responsible cuts,” he would “certainly support this.”
Sanders also said that Trump remains committed to working with lawmakers to pass tax reform, and that he will be in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on October 11 to promote tax cuts for American workers at an event for truckers. “They keep our economy moving — literally. And they are excited about the president’s tax reform plan, which will create more jobs and empower workers and families to keep more of their hard-earned money,” Sanders said.
As a further reminder of the president’s rocky relationship with Congress, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., penned an op-ed published October 10 titled “Democrats Must Forget About Trump and Join the GOP on Tax Reform” that seemed to marginalize the president.
“Democrats are under pressure from the left to oppose just about everything President Donald Trump touches — even ideas they themselves used to promote,” McConnell wrote in the op-ed for NBC News, chiding their criticism of a tax plan he claimed “fights corporate offshoring, eliminates loopholes for the wealthy and cuts middle-class taxes.”
After emphasizing that the current effort “is not about cutting taxes for some fat cat,” McConnell said tax reform has been bipartisan before, and can be again, if “our Democratic friends . . . continue supporting the very ideas they supported until Trump came along.”
Healthcare Executive Order Pending
A second White House spokesperson confirmed to Tax Analysts that Trump “will sign an executive order on healthcare later this week,” but declined to elaborate. Trump teased the announcement, mentioning his desire to permit health insurance purchases across state lines.
Trump said the healthcare action is “largely worked out,” describing it as “very simple in one way but very intricate in another.” He added that it would provide coverage to many individuals harmed by the ACA.
Asha Glover and Jonathan Curry contributed to this article.
Follow Stephen K. Cooper (@ScoopOnTaxes) and Luca Gattoni-Celli (@TheGattoniCelli) on Twitter for real-time updates.