After failing on healthcare, GOP confident on tax reform

The Chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee predicted President Trump and congressional Republicans would get their first major legislative win with a major tax reform bill later this year.

“We watched and learned from the healthcare process. We’re doing everything different from that. We’re working toward [all Republicans being in] one unified place,” said U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Conroe, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

He made the comments to a small gathering of business leaders at a lunch inside the Dallas Regional Chamber on Wednesday.

A tax reform bill would be unveiled before Thanksgiving, Brady said, though he could not yet specify how soon since it’s still being assembled.

“This is our sixth year of work on tax reform to be ready for this moment,” said Brady.

Republicans and the president badly want a legislative win now seven months into the Trump administration and after what happened to healthcare.

The GOP promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, collapsed spectacularly after Republicans alone, on several occasions, could not come to an agreement on how to do it.

But in a confident and comfortable tone on Wednesday, Brady said he hoped tax reform would be easier.

“We recognize we have to deliver,” said Brady. “We have for the first time, a White House, House and Senate fully committed to get this done.”

But the political climate in Washington is as unpredictable as it is unprecedented. President Trump has criticized members of his own party in Congress who he will need to get anything passed.

Brady said the tax overhaul would include three major reforms including: “the lowest tax rates on businesses in modern history,” personal tax returns that “nine out of 10 Americans can file with a simple post card,” and a proposal to “bust up the IRS and redesign it.”

The Republican legislation would keep both the mortgage interest and charitable giving deductions, Brady explained. He also said Congress would “muscle up the child tax credit.”

“We propose to permanently eliminate the estate tax,” added Brady. “While it is expensive, it funds about a day and a half of spending each year.”

What would be jettisoned to make up the differences remains uncertain.

John Stephens, the chief financial officer of AT&T who introduced Brady, is pushing to reform the business tax code revealing that the Dallas-based corporation alone spends $24-billion in taxes annually.

“It will not be easy and smooth,” said Brady. There will be good weeks and tough weeks.

Separately, the chairman was asked about the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico is the largest trading partner for Texas.

Brady said he agreed that the North American Free Trade Agreement needs to be modernized but that discussions to do so should happen while the agreement remains in place.

“The president’s rhetoric on trade has been white hot and creates concerns,” Brady added.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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