House speaker promises tax over­haul this year

De­spite chaos, busi­ness lead­ers be­gin lob­by­ing

The Day - - WORLD & NA­TION -

Washington — House Speaker Paul Ryan in­sisted on Thurs­day that Congress will over­haul the U.S. tax sys­tem this year de­spite the chaos con­sum­ing Washington and the po­lit­i­cal divi­sions in Congress.

“I feel very con­fi­dent we can meet this goal,” Ryan, R-Wis., told re­porters.

Ryan was bol­stered by skit­tish busi­ness lead­ers who be­gan an ag­gres­sive lob­by­ing ef­fort to en­sure that their vi­sion for a tax over­haul isn’t lost in the daily dis­trac­tions of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The con­ser­va­tive Koch broth­ers’ po­lit­i­cal net­work an­nounced it is pre­par­ing to spend mil­lions of dol­lars to­ward that end. The an­nounce­ment came on the same day a hand­ful of busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives told a con­gres­sional com­mit­tee that the cur­rent tax sys­tem makes U.S. com­pa­nies un­com­pet­i­tive.

“We no longer live in a world where the U.S. can set a cor­po­rate tax rate with­out con­sid­er­ing what our in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion looks like,” John Stephen, AT&T’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, told the House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee. “Coun­tries are vig­or­ously com­pet­ing against each other to at­tract in­vest­ment and jobs, but the U.S. has done lit­tle to re­tain its com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage.”

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion re­leased a one-page tax pro­posal last month that in­cluded mas­sive tax cuts for busi­nesses, a big­ger stan­dard tax de­duc­tion for mid­dle-in­come fam­i­lies, lower in­vest­ment taxes for the wealthy, and an end to the fed­eral es­tate tax for the very rich.

Thirty-one years af­ter the last over­haul, there is widespread agree­ment that the cur­rent tax sys­tem is too com­pli­cated and picks too many win­ners and losers, com­pelling com­pa­nies to make busi­ness de­ci­sions based on tax im­pli­ca­tions in­stead of sound busi­ness rea­sons.

But there are deep po­lit­i­cal and prac­ti­cal dis­agree­ments over how to fix it.

“I do be­lieve that there are very se­ri­ous and le­git­i­mate con­cerns to any ver­sion of tax re­form, and we’re go­ing to have to ac­com­mo­date those con­cerns as we move to a new tax sys­tem,” Ryan said.

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