Ryan: Tax reform to enter toughest phase yet

Camille Fine

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) warned Wednesday that Republicans will have to navigate the most difficult phase of tax reform yet once a bill is unveiled next week and lobbyists start fighting to preserve prized tax breaks.

The House is expected to adopt the Senate-passed budget on Thursday, which will pave the way for Republicans to pass tax reform that adds up to $1.5 trillion to the deficit without Democratic votes.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) is aiming to release a tax bill next week, with a markup the subsequent week. GOP leaders have set an ambitious timeline of passing the legislation through the House by Thanksgiving break.


Yet many details remain uncertain, despite Ryan and other GOP leaders’ hope for a quick process.

Ryan predicted that lobbying interests would swarm Capitol Hill in full force once the bill’s details are made public.

“When the details come, that is when you’re going to see K Street coming to Congress. And that’s why this hasn’t been done for 31 years,” Ryan said during a Reuters interview.

Ryan compared the upcoming phase to whitewater rafting, urging Republicans to stay unified in the face of special-interest opposition.

“We’ve been going through Class III rapids, which is a pleasant ride. It’s nice. Everybody pretty much stays in the boat and it’s pretty good. But we’re about to go through Class V rapids, which is the biggest rapid you can go through,” Ryan said.

“We’ve got to make sure that everybody stays in the boat and we get the boat down the river,” Ryan said.

Republicans are already facing divisions over certain provisions of their tax-reform framework.

GOP lawmakers hailing from populous, high-tax states such as New York and New Jersey have expressed opposition to the proposed elimination of the state and local tax deduction.

The financial industry has also raised alarm over a possible change to the taxing of retirement funds as a way to raise revenue.

Brady said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday that changes to 401(k) plans and other retirement savings programs are still on the table.

“We think in tax reform, you can create incentives for Americans to save more and save sooner, which can help them,” Brady said. “So we are exploring a number of ideas in those areas.”

President Trump had previously said that 401(k) plans shouldn’t be touched, but Wednesday he signaled a new willingness to negotiate on the issue.

Tags Kevin Brady Paul Ryan

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