Mnuchin: Tax reform before August 'highly aggressive to not realistic'

Mnuchin: Tax reform before August 'highly aggressive to not realistic'
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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a Financial Times interview published Monday that enacting tax reform legislation by August is “highly aggressive to not realistic at this point." 

The comments contrast with remarks Mnuchin made in March, when he said his goal would be to have a tax bill "signed" by August. The remarks also follow President Trump saying last week that he still intends to tackle repealing and replacing ObamaCare before tax reform.

“It started as [an] aggressive timeline,” Mnuchin told the Financial Times. “It is fair to say it is probably delayed a bit because of the healthcare.”

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A White House-led effort to repeal ObamaCare failed in March when House GOP leaders had to pull the legislation from a planned floor vote. Republicans are negotiating behind the scenes to try to revive it. Trump and Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanGOP leaders launch internal review into leak Opinion | Michael Steele: Gianforte better put his ‘big boy’ pants on Washington needs high-level science and technology expertise – now! MORE (R-Wis.) hoped to move on to tax reform after repealing ObamaCare — in part because the healthcare bill would change the baseline for a subsequent tax bill. 

Mnuchin added that he still thinks tax legislation will be passed this year.

The White House is in the early stages of preparing a tax-reform plan, and Mnuchin and others on Trump's economic team have been meeting with industry groups and lawmakers to get their thoughts. It's unclear if the White House's plan will include the border-adjustment provision in the House Republicans' tax plan that would tax imports and exempt exports.

Supporters of the border-adjustment provision point out that it would raise $1 trillion in revenue that could be used to help pay for lowering tax rates. Mnuchin told the Financial Times that there are other ways that the White House could raise $1 trillion but that the border-adjustment proposal is not "off the table."

Mnuchin also said in the interview that Treasury intends to impose more sanctions on Syria and North Korea. Additionally, he backed Trump's move not to label China a currency manipulator after the president pledged during his campaign that he would do so.

“The president’s comments during the campaign reflected previous periods of time,” Mnuchin said.