- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday pledged to see through “the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country,” while also saying he doesn’t think a key provision taxing imports envisioned by the House GOP works “in its current form.”

The White House was scheduled to unveil its priorities for tax reform later in the day, and Mr. Mnuchin offered some hints about what it would entail.

“This is going to be the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country, and we are committed to seeing this through,” Mr. Mnuchin said.

He did, however, pour some cold water on the House GOP’s “border adjustment tax,” which calls for taxing imports and is estimated to raise some $1 trillion in revenue over a 10-year period to help offset other rate cuts.

“There’s many aspects of it we like. There are certain things that we’re concerned about,” Mr. Mnuchin said of the import tax. “We don’t think it works in its current form.”

He said he would continue to have discussions with congressional leaders about revisions they could consider.

Mr. Mnuchin said he thinks the economy can get to sustained growth of 3 percent, and said that growth “absolutely” would pay for the tax plan.

He was speaking at an event at the Newseum hosted by The Hill newspaper.

Mr. Mnuchin said the House, the Senate, and the administration are all on the same page, but other differences between the House GOP’s plan and what the White House wants to see in a package have also emerged.

The House plan calls for a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, while the president has indicated he’d like an even bigger cut, to 15 percent.

“I will confirm that the business tax is going to be 15 percent — that is what the president said in the campaign,” Mr. Mnuchin said. “He thinks that’s absolutely critical to drive growth.”

Another key question is whether businesses taxed at a higher individual rate because of how they’re organized would benefit from that 15 percent rate, and Mr. Mnuchin said that small businesses should indeed benefit from the plan.

“We are committed that small business, owner-operators, will have the benefit of the business rate,” he said. “What this is not going to be is a loophole to let rich people who should be paying higher rates pay 15 percent. This is going to be for small businesses that drive the economy, and they will have the benefit of this.”

Mr. Mnuchin said he’s hopeful Democrats would work with Republicans on the issue, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this week that he didn’t expect to have Democratic involvement in the effort.

Republicans, who control 52 seats in the 100-member Senate, could use a budget vehicle that would allow them to pass a package with a simple majority, rather than try to win bipartisan support to overcome a potential filibuster.

But using the process, known as reconciliation, also means the legislation couldn’t add to the deficit beyond a 10-year window. Lawmakers could also opt for passing tax cuts that do result in a net loss in revenue, but put an expiration date on them.

“The goal is to make it permanent, but there’s lots of levers here. If we have it for 10 years, that’s better than nothing, but we’d like to have permanency to it,” Mr. Mnuchin said.

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