- The Washington Times - Monday, November 6, 2017

The House Ways and Means Committee kicked off debate Monday on the GOP’s proposed overhaul to the U.S. tax code, with Chairman Kevin Brady saying the time is now for lawmakers to pass “transformational” tax reform for the American people.

“Today, we stand on the doorstep of delivering the most sweeping tax overhaul in more than 30 years,” said Mr. Brady, Texas Republican.

“Our committee has dedicated a substantial amount of time, energy, and work to the pursuit of one landmark goal — delivering comprehensive tax reform to the American people,” he said.

Mr. Brady is hoping that his panel clears a bill this week so the full House can vote on a package before Thanksgiving. The Senate Finance Committee could release its own bill later this week, and it’s expected to be similar to the House version.

Last week, Mr. Brady unveiled legislation that would slash tax rates for corporations and aims to lower the individual tax burden across the board.

Democrats, meanwhile, are urging Republicans to abandon their plans to fast-track the overhaul with a process that would allow them to pass it with only GOP votes, saying if they press forward they’ll meet the same fate as they did during this year’s failed Obamacare repeal attempts.

“I truly believe that instead of the closed process that the Republicans used in developing this legislation, if we instead worked together on a bipartisan basis which included an open debate we would have and could have developed a bill that was better for our economy, American business and indeed middle-class families,” said Rep. Richard Neal, Massachusetts Democrat and the panel’s ranking member.

House Republicans last week unveiled a massive overhaul to the tax code that slashes the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent.

It maintains the top individual tax rate of 39.6 percent, but increases the income thresholds at which the highest rate would apply.

Many lower-and-middle income people would see a rate cut, owing in part to a near doubling of the standard deduction, to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for families.

But those in the upper-middle class would see their individual tax rates rise and lose access to a number of breaks that help keep their tax breaks in check.

Republicans say that when everything balances out, provisions like an expanded family credit and the preservation of the deductibility of local property taxes means there will be tax relief across the board.

Democrats, meanwhile, have cast the plan as a giveaway to the rich, and point out that the family credit is slated to expire after about five years.

The legislation is projected to cut federal revenue by about $1.5 trillion over 10 years. If it adds to federal deficits beyond that, it could run afoul of Senate rules.

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