Ryan calls for tax reform to be permanent

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday that tax reform should be permanent, even as other GOP lawmakers, administration officials and prominent conservatives have expressed openness to temporary tax cuts.

“These reforms, these tax cuts, they need to be permanent,” Ryan said in a speech before the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), to applause from the audience.

“Businesses need to have confidence that we won’t pull the rug out from under them,” he added. “They need the certainty from permanent tax cuts to hire more workers, to invest in their businesses, and to plan for the future.”

Congressional Republicans have said they want to pass tax reform legislation through a special budget process in order to avoid a filibuster by Democrats. But in order for a bill to be considered under reconciliation, it cannot increase the deficit outside of the budget window, which is usually 10 years.

To deal with the constraints of reconciliation, Ryan and the leaders of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee have been pushing for revenue-neutral tax reform that is permanent.

{mosads}Business leaders who testified at a Ways and Means Committee hearing last month also said permanency in tax changes is important to provide certainty.

But other lawmakers have said they would prefer legislation that is a net tax cut, even if those cuts need to expire.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist and Club for Growth President David McIntosh have called for extending the budget window so that Congress can pass tax cuts that last longer than 10 years.

Administration officials have expressed openness to this idea, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) reportedly also backs a longer budget window.

Ryan said he doesn’t plan to “cast about for quick fixes and half-measures.”

He said tax reform is about “looking down the road, it’s about planning for the future, leaving a legacy.”

“Once in a generation or so, there is an opportunity to do something absolutely transformational — something that will have a truly lasting impact long after you and I are gone,” he told the NAM gathering.

In a question-and-answer session after the speech, Ryan said he thinks getting tax reform done by the end of the calendar year is “eminently doable.” He also said his “personal goal is to get it done by opening day at gun deer season” — the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

Vice President Pence likewise expressed confidence that tax legislation would pass this year during a speech earlier in the day at the NAM event.

“We will get tax cuts done and we will get them done this year,” he said, adding that the legislation would be the “largest tax cut since the days of Ronald Reagan.”

Congressional GOP leaders and Trump administration officials are meeting regularly to produce a bill they can all support.

But Republicans continue to disagree on various components of a tax bill, in addition to whether tax reform should be permanent.

One major area where Republicans are divided is on the border-adjustment tax that was part of the tax plan Ryan released last year.

That proposal would tax imports and exempt exports as a way to raise revenue to pay for lowering tax rates and to discourage companies from moving overseas. Critics of the proposal, however, believe it would lead to higher prices on consumer goods.

Ryan did not mention the border-adjustment tax by name in his speech Tuesday but said it’s important for tax reform to encourage businesses to locate in the U.S.

“We must think differently, so that once again we make things here and export them around the world,” he said. “There are so many different of ways of achieving this — we in the House have our own idea — and that is one of the things that we are discussing with the administration, because we’re going to get this right.”

Ryan said people shouldn’t listen to the naysayers on tax reform.

“I am here to tell you: We are going to get this done in 2017,” he said.

The Speaker’s address was his first major address on the subject this year, and his office said that he chose to give the speech before NAM because he wanted to highlight his desire to bring jobs back to the U.S.

Manufacturers were pleased with what they heard.

“Today, Paul Ryan gave manufacturers and America exactly what we need: confidence,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said in a statement. “Confidence in our ability as a country to rise above pettiness and triviality to take action on bold and comprehensive tax reform that will incentivize investment and new jobs and lift the quality of life for millions of Americans.”

The National Retail Federation (NRF), which opposes the border-adjustment tax, also applauded Ryan for calling for permanent tax reform.

“We see eye to eye with the Speaker on many elements, such as lowering rates by eliminating tax credits and incentives that pick winners and losers among businesses,” said David French, the NRF’s senior vice president for government relations. “Retailers are also pleased to hear the Speaker call for permanent reform, rather than a temporary fix, so businesses have the certainty they need to make plans for the future.”

Democrats, unsurprisingly, criticized the process and substance of Republicans’ tax reform effort so far.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee’s tax-policy subcommittee, criticized House Republicans for waiting 11 months after the release of their “Better Way” tax blueprint to start holding hold hearings, and called for additional hearings on the topic.

“The Republican Blueprint is certainly a ‘better way’ to widen the income gap while exploding the national debt. It is both the wrong way for tax policy and the wrong way to legislate tax reform,” Doggett said.

Updated 3:36 p.m. 

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