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White House Hints Tax Plan Could End Up as Tax ‘Principles’

Posted on April 6, 2017 by Jonathan Curry

White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to say March 31 when the Trump administration would release its much-anticipated tax plan; instead, he appeared to commit the White House only to releasing “principles” for reform.

Asked at a briefing whether the White House would announce a separate tax reform plan or if it would simply “sign on” to a plan proposed by Republican lawmakers as it appeared to do with the American Health Care Act, Spicer at first disputed the premise of the question, saying that the White House had, in fact, worked closely with lawmakers on the healthcare plan. He then said that he hoped “we would come up with a [tax reform] plan that we all agree on,” and added, “The president will put out principles, I’m sure, as we’ve already done, in terms of what his goals are and how he wants to drive this as the process moves forward.”

Earlier in the week, Spicer said the White House would be “driving the train” on tax reform following the failure by Republicans to pass a replacement to the Affordable Care Act.

Spicer acknowledged that there would be a “robust debate” between the administration and Congress over tax provisions, but promised that the White House would work with the House and Senate on a tax plan. He also reiterated comments he made March 30 that the White House was in the early stages of the tax reform process and still seeking feedback from stakeholders. “When we feel it’s appropriate . . . we’ll start to put out the appropriate outline and process that we envision, but at this time that discussion is still ongoing,” Spicer said.

The White House did not respond to Tax Analysts’ request for comment.

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said earlier in the week that he welcomed presidential leadership on tax reform, but he also expressed hope that the administration would not release a competing tax plan of its own. Brady reaffirmed in a March 31 Politico interview that “the president ought to be leading in tax reform” and that Trump’s engagement on the issue was “critically important . . . for this to succeed,” though he made no mention of the White House releasing a tax plan of its own.

Were the White House to release its own tax reform plan, it could be seen as being in competition with Brady and House Republicans’ “A Better Way” tax reform blueprint, which has drawn attention largely for the border-adjustable tax that would be enacted as part of a new destination-based cash flow tax system. Brady told Politico that he's “certain” his committee will hold a hearing on border adjustability, arguing, “It’s one of the boldest provisions that our competitors are using, frankly, against us to beat us here in the U.S. and beat our made-in-America products overseas.”