Mnuchin: Congress to find go­ing eas­ier in re­form­ing taxes

Trea­sury sec­re­tary calls it ‘a lot sim­pler’ than health care.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY'S TOP NEWS - By Damian Paletta Wash­ing­ton Post

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.”

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