Mnuchin: Congress to find going easier in reforming taxes
Treasury secretary calls it ‘a lot simpler’ than health care.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin implored Congress on Friday to raise the federal debt ceiling and signaled an openness to negotiating changes to the tax code, illustrating how the Trump administration will have to work with Congress on other top issues besides the health law overhaul.
Mnuchin, speaking at an event in Washington hosted by the news site Axios, also said that overhauling the tax code — which hasn’t been done since 1986 — should prove easier than the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
“Health care and tax reform are two very different things,” Mnuchin said. “Health care is a very, very complicated issue. In a way, (tax changes are) a lot simpler. It really is.”
Mnuchin did walk back a commitment to ensure that any overhaul of the tax code would not reduce the tax burden for wealthier Americans. In the past, he has said changes to the tax code would not let the wealthiest Americans lower the amount they pay in taxes. On Friday, he said this was the “goal.”
“We’re working towards that as a goal,” he said. “Don’t hold me to it at the penny, but that is the direction we’re heading, absolutely.”
Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive and Hollywood producer, has expansive corporate experience, but — like many of President Donald Trump’s top advisers — he has not had to negotiate a major piece of legislation with Congress. In his comments Friday, he made clear that he would play a prominent role in the White House’s tax plan.
Trump has said he wanted to work on the overhaul of the tax code before tackling the Affordable Care Act, but Mnuchin said Friday that wasn’t possible.
“We’ve been working the last two months on tax reform,” Mnuchin said. “This is something we are designing from scratch and running through a lot of scenarios.” If they had tried to start the tax overhaul right away, he said, “we would not have been ready ... but now we are.”