Speaker of the House Paul Ryan hinted Wednesday that the first major overhaul of the U.S. tax code in nearly 30 years will likely get pushed back once again, this time moving the timetable from late summer to sometime in 2017.
Reforming the U.S. tax was one of the primary legislative promises made by President Donald Trump during his 2016 bid for the White House, along with upending former President Barack Obama’s landmark health care bill.
“This will be done in 2017, that is our time line, we would like to get it done as soon as possible,” the speaker told reporters Wednesday during a visit to London. “As soon as possible for us is by the end of summer but we’re going to take our time to get it right. We can clearly get this done by the end of summer but if it needs to go a little longer, we’ll do that.”
Health care reform is the primary focus for the Trump administration, and, as a result, tax reform has taken a backseat. Continued failures by Trump and Republican leadership in Congress to put forth an Obamacare repeal bill that conservative and moderate-Republicans can get behind have delayed progress on many other fronts, like financial, regulatory and tax reform. Democrats also remain in unanimous opposition to any form of repeal and replace at this point, so the road ahead appears tumultuous at best.
Following the humiliating defeat of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in March, it looked like the president might be willing to move onto tax reform in order to get a major bill through Congress in his first 100 days in office. “I would say that we will probably start going very, very strongly for the big tax cuts and tax reform. That will be next,” the president told reporters in late-March after the bill failed.
The president changed his tune again a few weeks later, telling Fox Business’ host Maria Bartiromo on April 12 that: “We’re going to have a phenomenal tax reform (plan), but I have to do healthcare first. I want to do it first to really do it right.”
Ryan’s platform includes some rather contentious features that will undoubtedly cause some tumult among some conservative-Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Namely, his push for a Border Tax Adjustment, which effectively levies a 20 percent import tax on imported goods. Conservatives have voiced their concerns about the tax, along with their Democratic colleagues, arguing the tax would do nothing but raise prices on American consumers and leave some U.S. companies that rely on foreign labor at a comparative disadvantage.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has repeatedly promised that tax reform would not come before the end of August, echoing Ryan’s statements Wednesday.
Lawmakers get back from their two-week recess on April 27, no major moves on health care or tax reform or expected until that point.
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