- The Washington Times - Monday, October 16, 2017

President Trump on Monday seemed to be pushing back a year-end deadline for the GOP to get tax reform done, saying there’s still “a long way to go” and that it took President Ronald Reagan “years” to accomplish his overhaul of the tax code.

Appearing in the White House Rose Garden with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Mr. Trump said he’d like to get it done this year, but the two men said big issues take awhile.

“So we could have a long way to go, but that’s OK,” the president said.

The comments came as the White House stepped up its defense of the GOP’s plans to slash corporate income tax rates, releasing a report finding that the average family would see at least $4,000 more in their pockets every year from the cut.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers said workers bear as much as 70 percent of the corporate tax burden, so cutting the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent would mean between $4,000 and $9,000 in extra income for a family making $83,143 — the national average in 2016.

Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett said that under the current tax system, corporations are shifting operations and profits overseas, depriving the U.S. of much of the benefit.

“If we go down to 20 percent, then they’re going to bring that activity back here, increase the demand for workers here, and drive up wages as well,” Mr. Hassett said Monday on CNBC.

“I can tell you that if we get this bill through, it’ll be great for American workers,” he said.

But Democrats have questioned that notion, with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer saying the new CEA analysis relies on “fake math” and that wages have remained flat amid record corporate profits.

“That’s proof positive that companies already have a cash windfall, but they’re not using it to boost wages,” said Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat. “History shows tax cuts like these benefit the wealthy and the powerful to the exclusion of the middle class.”

Democrats have shown little interest in working with the GOP on its blueprint, meaning Republican leaders will have to find the votes from within their own ranks.

It’s one reason Mr. McConnell has been less bullish than others on setting an end-of-year deadline.

“We’re going to get this job done, and the goal is to get it done by the end of the year,” the Kentucky Republican said while standing with Mr. Trump.

But he quickly pointed to difficulties previous presidents have had in winning big-ticket items, saying it took President Obama until March of his second year to sign Obamacare and July of his second year to sign the massive overhaul of Wall Street rules known as Dodd-Frank.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who has been pushing for action this year, said the tax goal is now contingent on the Senate’s passing a 2018 budget, which Republicans need to unlock a fast-track process to thwart a potential filibuster. The House recently passed its own budget after months of delays, and the Senate is supposed to vote on its budget this week.

“So by early November, we’ll get it out of the House, we’ll send it to the Senate,” Mr. Ryan said on WTMJ radio. “The goal: get law in December so that we wake up with new year’s and a new tax code in 2018.”

Mr. Ryan recently threatened to keep lawmakers in Washington, D.C., during Christmas if that’s what it takes to get tax reform across the finish line.

Stung by their Obamacare repeal failure, Republicans now feel a pressing sense of urgency to give constituents and donors something to motivate them to turn out in next year’s midterm elections, and a tax overhaul tops the list.

Most recently, that urgency has been felt in Republicans’ insistence that the middle class will be the biggest beneficiaries of the plan, despite a framework released that month that calls for items like an estate tax repeal, and tax cuts for large and small businesses Democrats contend are skewed toward the wealthy.

The administration and congressional Republicans have pushed back on that idea, pointing to the proposed doubling of the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for couples as evidence that the GOP’s plan reduces the tax burden on low-income people who already may face little or no federal income tax liability.


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