Obama: 'Specific' tax reform proposals coming

 

President Obama vowed Friday that his administration would “put forward some pretty specific proposals” as he tries to find common ground with Republicans on tax reform. 

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Speaking at his year-end news conference, the president said that he expected staffers from both the administration and Capitol Hill to intensify their discussions in the coming weeks about each side’s principles for tax reform.

Obama also said that he and Republicans had some similar desires when it came to tax reform, including making the code simpler and fairer.

“They are serious about wanting to get some things done,” Obama said, referring to House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBoehner says it's Democrats' turn for a Tea Party movement House Republicans find silver lining in minority Alaskan becomes longest serving Republican in House history MORE (R-Ohio) and the incoming Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Dems eye next stage in Mueller fight House Oversight Dem wants Trump to release taxes and 'get it over with' Senate rejection of Green New Deal won't slow Americans' desire for climate action MORE (R-Ky.). “The tax area is one area where we can get things done.”

Still, Obama warned: “The devil’s in the details. And I’ll be interested in seeing what they want to move forward.”

The Obama administration released a framework for revamping the tax system for businesses more than two years ago, but Republicans have long said he’s given little more than lip service to the issue while in office.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), who retired this year after releasing a broad draft overhaul of the tax code, has ripped the White House and Treasury Department for weeks for not unveiling a similarly detailed proposal. Obama did not elaborate Friday on how specific he wanted the administration’s tax reform proposals to be in the coming year.

Obama did say that he still wanted a legislative fix to cross-border mergers known as "inversions" that allow U.S. corporations to slash their tax bill by moving their headquarters offshore. He added that he wanted to make the tax code fairer, noting that many U.S. companies pay near the top corporate rate of 35 percent while others pay close to zero, and that he wants to use tax reform to help pay for infrastructure improvements.

“Historically, obviously, infrastructure has not been a Democratic or a Republican issue,” Obama said. “And I’d like to see if we can return to that tradition.”

Top Republicans like Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFormer Dem candidate says he faced cultural barriers on the campaign trail because he is working-class Former House candidate and ex-ironworker says there is 'buyer's remorse' for Trump in Midwest Head of top hedge fund association to step down MORE (Wis.), the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee and incoming Ways and Means chairman, have said they’re willing to work with Obama on tax reform for businesses. But the GOP also prefers revamping both the individual and business systems, because many companies pay taxes as individuals. Any overhaul would have to include those businesses, Republicans have said.

But even as they say they’ll talk to Obama on tax reform, Ryan and other Republicans have also said they doubt they can reach a deal with him. The two sides aren’t on the same page on which tax breaks would be eliminated or changed through tax reform, and whether a revamped tax code should raise more revenue. Republicans have also showed little interest in crafting legislation on inversions.