White House aide hopes to see tax reform done by November

White House aide hopes to see tax reform done by November
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White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said Monday that Republicans are planning an “aggressive” timetable on tax reform, with the expectation that legislation can head to the president’s desk by November.

Short said he thinks the House and Senate tax-writing committees will mark up legislation after Labor Day. He expects that legislation will be considered on the House floor in October and in the Senate in November.

“That I think is an aggressive schedule, but that is our timetable,” he said at an event at the Newseum hosted by groups backed by wealthy GOP donors Charles and David Koch.

“Hopefully we’ll have completion by mid-November,” Short later added.

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also said at the event that he expects tax-reform legislation to be enacted this year.

“We will have success,” he said. “This is a pass-fail exercise and we will pass tax reform.”

The event came after the White House and congressional GOP leaders released tax-reform principles last week. With that laundry list in hand, Trump is going to pitch tax reform to the public, the administration officials said.

“He’s going to be on the road helping us sell it,” Mnuchin said.

Short also noted that unlike with healthcare, groups such as those in the Koch network and others are holding organized campaigns in support of the administration’s tax-reform efforts.

“It’s clearly something that’s being galvanized at this time in the tax-reform debate,” he said.

Democrats have blasted Republicans’ tax plans, arguing that they are designed to largely benefit the wealthy. But the administration officials pushed back on the idea that rich people would be getting large tax cuts, saying they would also see tax breaks eliminated.

“For most people in the top rate, they’re not getting a tax cut,” Mnuchin said.

Short said he thinks tax reform can be bipartisan. He noted that many Democrats, particularly in the Midwest, are concerned about jobs moving overseas.

But Monday's event drew criticism from progressives. Several liberal groups — including Americans for Tax Fairness, Tax March and Public Citizen — organized a protest outside of the Newseum.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) issued a statement ahead of the event criticizing GOP lawmakers and the Koch brothers.

“The Republican opening act of tax cuts for the superrich masquerading as health care repeal may have collapsed, but their billionaire buddies are setting the stage for the main event,” Doggett said.

“Congress may have recessed for August, but billionaire special interests, who demand ever more tax breaks, never go into recess.”

Short said he thought the protest was small.

“I expected a bigger protest,” he said.

Mnuchin and Short weren’t the only administration officials discussing tax reform on Monday. Earlier in the day, White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn held a tax-reform listening session with groups in the real estate industry.