US House Speaker Ryan leaves door open on taxes, deficit

Portrait of Governor Doug Burgum

Portrait of Governor Doug Burgum

He backed off months of promises that the Republicans' tax plan won't add to the nation's ballooning deficit.

BRADY: Yes, by the end of the year.

"It was thrown at him", said Representative Mark Sanford, Republican of SC and a member of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus, referring to the fiscal deal.

Earlier, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said tax reductions would be paid for by faster economic growth.

Asked twice during an interview with the Associated Press if he will insist that tax reform be revenue neutral, Ryan didn't give a yes-or-no answer but instead deferred to the tax-writing committees that are working on the details and argued that creating economic growth with the tax plan is "more important than anything else". But they have a problem or two to overcome. If anything, Mr. Ryan may have emerged stronger.

Tax reform has been identified by Republicans as the primary policy focus for this congressional term, but divisions remain both between Republicans and Democrats and within the Republican party itself about how to tackle a tax code that has not been revised for decades.

Republicans spooked world markets in their ardor to cut spending when Democrat Barack Obama occupied the White House.

♦ They pulled it off because a popular president fresh off a landslide victory threw his considerable weight and charm behind its passage, and because that president had highly respected professionals on his staff. Reagan lobbied congressmen personally, and at one point even went to Capitol Hill to plead for the legislation. The only wealthy Americans who would see their taxes remain flat would be those living in states such as NY and California, Mnuchin said.

For the record, the successful 1986 tax reform effort was approved in the House by a bipartisan vote of 292 to 136; in the Senate, it passed by a bipartisan vote of 74 to 23.

In a phone call with a small group of reporters, Marc Short, Trump's legislative affairs director, said the president was not talking about higher tax rates, but that other changes in the tax code could affect the wealthy and how much they pay, the publication Roll Call reported.

Sen. Joe Manchin said Wednesday he sensed a bipartisan spirit among the Republicans and Democrats meeting for dinner and to talk about tax reform with with President Donald Trump at the White House Tuesday night.

The Democrats hail from states Trump won in November, and the White House is interested in getting their support for a tax bill. Some details will be included in the template set to be released later this month, but the text of the legislation will ultimately be crafted by the House Ways and Means Committee.

"More and more, we're trying to work things out together. And so that's what we're going to give a shot", he said. He tweeted this morning that with Irma and Harvey devastation, tax cuts and tax reform is needed more than ever before. "The House, the Senate and the White House are starting from the same page and the same outline, and then the tax writers are going to take it from there on the details". Ryan and his team outlined a plan aimed at cutting corporate tax rates from 35 percent to somewhere around 20 percent, and pass-through tax rates to around 25 percent.

Washington Republicans continue to rally around the only idea that seems to unite them these days, which is the prospect of major tax cuts. But they also have a lot of representatives in Congress. If Congress can pass a budget, Republicans controlling the Senate don't need to worry about a Democratic filibuster blocking any tax bill. We're not - we're looking for the middle class, and we're looking for jobs - jobs, meaning companies.

"Pence, in a speech in West Virginia, pointed out the current tax code is nine times bigger than the bible, "'without any good stories, '" said Manchin, pointing out that Pence was right.

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