Mnuchin aiming for tax reform by August

Mnuchin aiming for tax reform by August
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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday said he wants to get tax reform legislation enacted by the time Congress leaves for its August recess.

"It will be very significant. It's going to be focused on middle-income tax cuts, simplification and making the business tax competitive with the rest of the world," Mnuchin said on CNBC in his first television interview since his confirmation.

Congressional GOP leaders have laid out a similar timetable for tax reform, but there will be challenges to getting legislation enacted quickly.

House Republicans have been working on a bill based off a blueprint they released last year. However, a key part of that plan, known as border adjustment, has been facing increasing opposition from a number of businesses and GOP lawmakers, particularly in the Senate.

Supporters of the border-adjustment proposal, which would tax imports and exempt exports, argue that it would raise revenue to pay for other tax cuts and would eliminate incentives for companies to move jobs overseas. Opponents of the tax worry that it would lead to higher prices for consumers.

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Mnuchin said that the White House is "looking closely at the issues on the border-adjusted tax."

"We think there are some very interesting aspects of it. We think there are some concerns about it," he said.

He said that the administration and lawmakers are committed to achieving a "combined plan that is a plan that is the administration's plan, with the support of the House and the Senate — that we're all working together on one plan that gets passed."

In a November interview with CNBC, Mnuchin said there would be "no absolute tax cut for the upper class," a pledge that Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenLobbying World Overnight Regulation: House to vote on repealing joint-employer rule | EPA won't say which areas don't meet Obama smog rule | Lawmakers urge regulators to reject Perry plan New tax plan will hinder care for older Americans MORE (D-Ore.) has dubbed the "Mnuchin rule."

Asked Thursday whether he stands by his earlier comments, Mnuchin said that nothing has been finalized but "the objective is this is a middle-income tax cut" and that they want to offset tax cuts for the wealthy by reducing tax deductions.

During his confirmation hearing, Mnuchin said he didn't want tax reform to add to the deficit. Asked about whether tax reform would be revenue neutral, Mnuchin said he supports "dynamic scoring," which takes economic growth into cost estimates. He predicted that the administration will have higher growth assumptions than what the Joint Committee on Taxation uses to produce its revenue estimate.

Mnuchin said that as a result of tax reform, regulatory relief and potential changes to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, the U.S. should be able to achieve sustainable economic growth of 3 percent. That's higher than the projections by the Congressional Budget Office.

He said he thought it will take some time to get to his economic growth goal, saying: "It's definitely going to take into next year to see an engine of growth."