Ryan uses reporters' recorders to explain border tax proposal

Ryan uses reporters' recorders to explain border tax proposal
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Stopping the next insurrection MORE (R-Wis.) on Thursday made use of unusual props to explain the House Republicans' controversial border adjustment tax plan: the recorders of journalists present to cover his press conference.

During a press conference Thursday, Ryan was asked about Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen's remarks that there's uncertainty about how markets would react to the proposal to tax imports and exempt exports.

Ryan proceeded to describe how the proposal would work. He noted that most other countries already border-adjust their taxes and tax goods based on whether they were consumed in their jurisdiction. In contrast, the U.S. currently taxes goods based on whether they were produced here.


The Speaker picked up two reporters' recorders to give an example of how goods are taxed currently. He suggested one was American-made and the other was Japanese-made. Early on, he dropped one of the recorders, saying "oops" and receiving laughter from the reporters.

"Here's what Japan does when they make this tape recorder: When they send it for export they take the tax off of it, and then it comes to America and it's not taxed, and it comes through to compete against our good, which was taxed. Theirs was untaxed twice," Ryan said.

"When America makes something, like a tape recorder, we tax it, and then we send it to Japan. As it enters Japan it's taxed again, to compete against their tape recorder," he continued. "So we are doing it to ourselves. We are hurting our manufacturing and jobs. We are putting a bias against making things in America in the tax code. ... That is why we think this is very important. This is good manufacturing policy."

The border adjustment proposal is a key component of the House Republicans' tax plan because it would raise more than $1 trillion to pay for other tax cuts. But the import tax is facing increasing opposition from businesses and GOP lawmakers, putting the House GOP blueprint's chances in jeopardy.

Ryan strongly maintained that tax reform legislation will pass this year.

"It's going to be up, it's going to be down, it's going to be on, it's going to be off. You're going to report 150 stories on tax reform's fate between now and when we get tax reform done," he said. 

"We are doing tax reform. Tax reform is going to happen. And do you know why tax reform is going to happen? Because it has to happen," Ryan added. "America has the worst tax code in the industrialized world. It is killing economic growth. It is driving companies to become foreign companies."