- The Washington Times - Monday, December 5, 2016

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Monday refused to back President-elect Donald Trump’s push for a 35-percent tariff on companies that move operations abroad and then sell their goods back in the United States, saying corporate tax reform is the key to retaining American jobs.

“I think that’s a better way to solve the problem than getting in a trade war over a 35-percent tariff,” the California Republican told reporters.

Mr. Trump pitched his get-tough approach in a tweet on Sunday, saying companies that move jobs offshore will be “making a very expensive mistake” and would face a 35-percent tax. That raised eyebrows among Republicans such as Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who said it could lead to higher prices for families.

Yet Mr. McCarthy downplayed apparent rifts between Mr. Trump and congressional Republicans, who’ve also struggled to defend tax breaks that were doled out to Carrier, an Indiana-based manufacturer, through sitting governor and Vice-President Mike Pence, so that Mr. Trump could fulfill a campaign promise he made to prevent the company from moving jobs to Mexico.

GOP lawmakers have railed against federal intervention in the open market for years, labeling it “crony capitalism”

The majority leader urged reporters to take a deep breath and let things play out once Mr. Trump takes office, saying the incoming administration sees eye to eye with Republicans on tax reform and helping American workers.

“Let’s have the debate and see where it ends up,” he said.

He also downplayed Mr. Trump’s decision to break with precedent and speak to Taiwan’s leader, saying a congratulatory call from the island claimed by China does not necessarily indicate a shift in U.S. policy in the region.

While Mr. Trump kicks up dust outside of Washington, Mr. McCarthy said Congress will pass a stopgap funding bill to kick fiscal fights months into Mr. Trump’s presidency and an infrastructure package to aid Flint, Michigan, residents still reeling from lead-tainted water before the holiday break.

Mr. McCarthy planned to post the water bill Monday, followed by the spending bill on Tuesday.

“We will not leave town until we get all our work done,” he said.

Looking ahead, he said GOP leaders will kick off the next Congress by writing a budget to set in motion fast-track rules that would allow Republicans to gut Obamacare on a majority-line vote in the Senate, avoiding a Democratic filibuster and clearing the way for Mr. Trump’s signature at the White House.

Mr. McCarthy and GOP committee chairmen on Monday looked beyond Washington for ideas on how to then replace the law, saying governors and state insurance commissioners have a “tremendous opportunity” to help Congress rewrite health reform.

The Republicans asked the state officials how to expand insurance choices while lowering costs, while reforming Medicaid and preserving coverage that people obtain through their jobs.

They also wanted to know which states sought a type of Obamacare waiver that, starting in 2017, allows them to institute their own reforms, so long as they produce equivalent or better outcomes than the Affordable Care Act.

And they asked the states if they’d be interested in setting up a high-risk pool to cover sicker customers who’ve been priced out of the insurance market. The House GOP’s “Better Way” plan calls for $25 billion in federal funding for such pools.

“Working as a team, with your help and creative ideas, we can achieve our mutual goal of putting patients first,” they wrote.

Republicans insist they will not pull the rug out from the millions of people who hold Obamacare coverage and would be effected by repeal, should it occur before a new plan is in place, though they haven’t said how that transition will work.

“Nothing to report yet,” Mr. McCarthy said.

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