GOP Applauds Trump’s Tax Speech, Dems Blast It For Lack Of Details

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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President Donald Trump’s Wednesday speech highlighting the need for permanent tax reform was widely praised by Republican lawmakers, but failed to convince Democrats he is serious about his call to work across the aisle on overhauling the tax code.

While the GOP is still attempting to iron out specifics on their plan, Trump stressed he is committed to signing legislation that will drastically reduce rates and simplify the tax code. Top administration officials have been meeting with GOP leadership and the chairmen of the top tax-writing committees for months in an attempt to work out a blueprint they can all get behind.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan — who has long been praised as a tax policy wonk — said congressional Republicans and the White House are unified in their commitment to bring down rates, arguing it’s necessary for economic growth.

“Right now, our tax code is burdensome, incomprehensible, and puts American businesses at a severe disadvantage on the world stage. We want American companies to hire here and make things here,” he said in a statement. “We want Americans to be able to keep more of their hard-earned money. That’s why we are committed to reforming the tax code and why President Trump reiterated his commitment today in Missouri.”

House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas echoed Ryan’s sentiments, saying he believes it will bring much-needed relief to small businesses.

“He explained clearly today why Washington must act now on pro-growth tax reform that will create jobs, grow paychecks, and improve the lives of all Americans,” he said. “As the president mentioned, our tax reform plan will make the American Dream more accessible than ever before.”

While Republicans touted their goal to lighten the financial burden for average Americans, Democrats blasted Trump’s remarks, arguing he failed to lay out details and would help Wall Street more than main street.

“President Trump’s speech today in Missouri underscores the fundamental problems Republicans are facing when it comes to tax reform: they’re trying to do it alone, seemingly can’t agree on any specific policies, and time and again continue to resort to vague, decades-old talking points – like the President did today – instead of taking bold action,” House Ways and Means Ranking Member Richie Neal said in a statement. “The President said today he wants to unrig the economy, which begs the question: unrig it for who?”

Democratic Rep. Sandy Levin of Michigan alleged Trump was disingenuous in his remarks, saying he doesn’t feel the tax writing committees have made enough of an effort to work across the aisle on constructing their plan.

“He was painfully vague in his discussion about middle-class tax-relief,” he said. “Contrary to his rhetoric, his plan would open the door to massive tax cuts for the very wealthy.”

The GOP is looking for a legislative win in the wake of the Senate’s botched attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, with leadership hoping to pass a bill before the end of the year.

Republicans  — who are looking to use the reconciliation process — which allows them to pass the bill with just a simple majority in the upper chamber — have struggled to find a revenue-raising alternative to the border adjustment tax (BAT). The BAT, which places a levy on imports while exempting exports, played a pivotal role in offsetting the steep cuts in House GOP’s “A Better Way” blueprint, which economists at the Tax Foundation estimate would generate $1.1 trillion over the course of a decade. The provision was met with bipartisan pushback. Critics argued it would lead to a hike in prices on a number of goods that would ultimately fall on consumers. Senate rules prohibit reconciliation bills from adding to the deficit after a 10-year period.

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