Republicans Thinking About Scaling Back on Tax Reform

President Trump promised the largest tax cut in history, but as he hit the road Wednesday to promote the plan, Republicans in Congress were quietly discussing scaling back key provisions in an effort to deliver the top White House priority.

There’s already talk that the cornerstone of the GOP proposal — a dramatically reduced 20% corporate tax rate that Trump has called a “red line” — may slip to 22% or 23%, those familiar with negotiations said.

Trump had originally promised a 15% rate for corporations. But Republicans are running into resistance from lawmakers and lobbyists who want to preserve deductions and loopholes that were targeted for elimination under the White House plan to offset the massive corporate cut from the current 35% rate.

Some Republicans are also pushing back against other parts of the president’s plan, such as scrapping the estate tax for the rich and eliminating deductions for state and local taxes, which would hurt residents in high-tax states like California and New York.

At an evening rally in Harrisburg, Pa., Trump said the corporate rate would be “no more than 20%.” But earlier this week, he acknowledged that changes may lie ahead. “We’ll be adjusting a little bit over the next few weeks to make it even stronger,” he said.

Negotiators say changes will be needed if Republicans, who can afford to lose only two votes in the Senate and about 20 in the House if no Democrats join in support, hope to avoid another embarrassing defeat like the collapse of their Obamacare repeal plan.

Fiscally conservative Republicans will be the hardest to win over because the GOP tax plan has been estimated by some outside groups to add more than $2 trillion to the deficit over 10 years.

Republicans are racing to pass their tax overhaul by the end of the year, hoping to give the economy a boost and quiet complaints that they have accomplished little with the party’s hold on the White House and Congress.

Yet even as Trump and top Republicans, including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Vice President Mike Pence, talk up the tax plan in whistle-stop tours across the nation, it remains in flux, more of a concept than a proposal. Actual legislation remains weeks away.

“Everything is fluid right now,” said one business lobbyist, granted anonymity to discuss the private talks, adding that there are “realistic tensions” over the details.

Republicans are finding that their desire for lowering corporate and individual rates is running into the fiscal challenge of how to pay for the reductions without exacerbating the nation’s debt load.

They argue that tax cuts, even if deficit-financed, will spur economic growth and provide new revenue. But many economists question that theory, saying it hasn’t worked that way in the past.

In addition, Republicans — in order to take advantage of special budget rules that will allow them to pass the tax plan in the Senate with a simple majority — must find ways to offset some of the costs.

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Source: LA Times