The House’s top tax-writer said Friday that he will take an aggressive approach to build support for a tax reform overhaul by the August recess.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul RyanOvernight Healthcare: Ryan visits White House amid healthcare rubble Feehery: Freedom Caucus follies Press: Did Trump learn? MORE (R-Wis.) said that he wants at least a major portion, most likely focusing on business taxes, done within seven months.
"Summer is, if we’re going to find common ground on tax reform, that’s when that ground will be found,” he said.
Failure to make that deadline — Ryan was cautious about pinpointing a target date — jeopardizes any efforts for an overhaul this year.
"I just think knowing the way the budget process works on tax reform that if we haven't done it in 2015, which is effectively through summer, it won't happen," he said.
Ryan said he didn’t expect to need reconciliation instructions in the budget deal because only a tax measure with bipartisan support will clear Congress.
Ryan sees tax reform happening in phases, with business taxes taking up most of the initial process. A second phase would wrap up anything left out.
“If we can do tax reform in phases in this divided government, I’m open to it so long as the phases work well,” Ryan said.
"But I would prefer we do the whole thing, to be honest with you," he added.
Overall, Ryan said tax reform can be done in "somewhere between one and three years."
Still, Ryan criticized President Obama for failing to take a more overarching approach to tax reform.
"The challenge here is we have a president who doesn't want to do comprehensive reform, who doesn't want to do individual and business tax reform," he said.
Congress and the White House do see eye-to-eye on some larger areas including lowering rates, broadening the tax base, and lowering the corporate rate and they agree on some of the tax breaks such as a credit for business research.
Ryan credited a tax plan and process by former House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) for setting him up to tackle the daunting issue.
"It was very helpful and it got the ball rolling," he said. "He did a very good job getting members up to speed. It was a fantastic educational process."
In his discussion of the broader agenda, Ryan reiterated that he took his name out of the 2016 presidential race so he could focus on major issues such as taxes, trade and fixes to ObamaCare, Social Security and welfare programs.