House Speaker Paul Ryan dismissed allegations the GOP’s outline to overhaul the tax code would disproportionately benefit high-income earners in a speech slated for Thursday at the Heritage Foundation.
While top tax writers continue to iron out the details of the proposal, the “Big Six” — Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Economic Adviser Gary Cohn — recently unveiled the tax framework agreed upon between both chambers and the administration.
Despite the lack of bill text, a number of critics, including a few within the GOP conference, have expressed concern the specifics they’ve seen could lead to a higher tax burden on the middle class. Ryan asserted the criticisms are unwarranted, reassuring the crowd they are working to craft legislation providing relief for all Americans.
“Where better to start than the same tired, old line of attack that this a tax cut for the rich at the expense of the middle class? How original,” he said in his prepared remarks. “They have been saying this for as long as I can remember.”
The Wisconsin Republican argued the current tax code currently benefits the wealthy over the middle class due to special-interest loopholes.
“It works best for those who know how to take advantage of all these breaks and deductions,” he continued, noting they plan to lower rates, nearly double the standard deduction and reduce the number of brackets from seven to three.
“So in reality, this plan is really the single most important thing we can do to help the middle class,” he continued. “Lower tax rates. A larger standard deduction. A bigger child tax credit. And a code that is simpler and fairer for everyone.”
Ryan said they won’t allow the “army of lobbyists” looking to “protect special interest provisions” derail their efforts to overhaul the tax code, adding they are committed to closing loopholes.
“Most hardworking Americans never see a dime from these loopholes. Instead, these pet provisions just reward the few and keep rates artificially high for everyone else,” he said. “They only make it more difficult to give tax relief to those who need it the most.”
In the wake of Senate Republicans fumbling their attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare, the party is looking for a win on tax reform ahead of the 2018 elections. Despite facing a number of hurdles, top GOP lawmakers maintain they plan to send tax-reform legislation to the president’s desk before the end of the year.
“If we pull together . . . if we reject the usual tiresome cynicism . . . we will get this done,” Ryan said. “We will do something historic that improves people’s lives.”
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