- The Washington Times - Friday, October 20, 2017

Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Friday that the House plans to introduce a fourth tax bracket for high-income earners.

“This is about the people, about half of which in this country are living paycheck to paycheck, and giving them a break on their taxes, giving them some tax relief, and closing loopholes and carve-outs, which disproportionately benefit the very high income people — the very well-connected businesses,” Mr. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, said on CBS News.

The exact brackets in the tax proposal are still being debated, but the House speaker said the goal is helping the middle class and incentivizing businesses to keep their money and jobs in the U.S.

“By plugging those loopholes and lowering rates for everybody, you make it fair and simpler for everybody,” he said. “We also think it’s important for our businesses [to] bring their money back from overseas, make their tax rates competitive with the rest of the world, so that you have an incentive to stay in America, and make things in America.”

Mr. Ryan, who has expressed frustration with the Senate’s slow pace and inability to pass legislation, said he’s pleased the other chamber has followed through on the budget deal.

“We’re really, really pleased that the Senate did their heavy lifting on the first stage of this yesterday,” he said.

Senate Republicans passed the budget deal on party lines late Thursday allowing tax reform to move ahead without fear of a filibuster from Democrats.

Mr. Ryan was in New York on Thursday for the 72nd annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, which supports Catholic charities in New York and is known for political roasts.

When asked if he thought President Trump would be upset with the jokes Mr. Ryan made in his speech at the president’s expense, he said he and the president often joke with each other.

“We know each other so well right now, and we actually jab at each other all the time on the phone,” Mr. Ryan said.

“I think it’s once he gets to know a person, and knows who they are, and how they tick, and has a personal relationship with them, it’s a totally different story.”

The House speaker also commented on threats from former White House Chief Strategist Stephen K. Bannon who said that he plans to primary every incumbent Republican in the Senate as well as Mr. Ryan.

“He’s not in government anymore,” Mr. Ryan said. “Why worry about things outside your control?”

But Mr. Ryan did address identity politics, which he said is being overplayed today. Mr. Ryan was responding to a question about former President George W. Bush’s speech on Thursday where he talked about “bigotry” and “nativism.”

“I think identity politics is being played on the left and on the right,” he said. “I think it’s really dangerous for our country.”

Mr. Ryan said that such tactics do nothing but “divide people for gain.”

“There are people who for some reason believe it’s not immoral — it is,” he said.

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