Speaker Ryan: Senate is biggest obstacle to passing tax cut
MADISON — House Speaker Paul Ryan said Monday that the biggest obstacle to passing a Republican-authored federal tax overhaul plan is the GOP-controlled Senate because of its narrow majority, but he believes it will prevail this year with bipartisan support.
Ryan told the audience at a Wisconsin chamber of commerce luncheon that he remains "bullish" on the $6 trillion tax cut plan passing yet this year because Republicans in both the Senate and House "more or less agree on this, on how it should go."
"We spent four months negotiating with the Senate and the White House, what tax reform would look like, at the front end of the situation, at the front end of the process so we can nail the landing at the end of the year," Ryan said. "So I am far more bullish."
Ryan's comments came as President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged after a White House meeting on Monday to work together on overhauling taxes. The Senate plans to take a vote this week on a budget that would set the stage for the tax legislation that would deeply reduce levies for corporations, simplify everyone's brackets and nearly double the standard deduction used by most Americans.
President Trump was also busy touting the tax plan Monday, with his administration saying by slashing corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 20 percent the average U.S. household would receive an estimated $4,000 more a year. Democrats and tax experts questioned the estimates.
Ryan's positive spin on the tax plan's chances comes as he faces a backlash from rank-and-file Republican lawmakers who object to repealing the popular federal deduction for state and local taxes.
Ryan said he didn't think anyone, including Democrats, from states like Wisconsin with a heavy manufacturing and agricultural base voting against the GOP tax overhaul plan.
"It's hard for me to see somebody representing a state like North Dakota, or Indiana, or Missouri not voting for this because it's so clearly in the interest of these kind of states like ours where people are struggling or we have manufacturing," he said. "So I feel pretty confident we're going to get it done, but the Senate is always a pretty narrow needle to thread."
Ryan said he was more optimistic about the tax bill's chances in the Senate than failed attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Health Care law because under Senate rules the Democrats won't be able to filibuster the tax proposal.
"I feel like we're far better wired for success," Ryan said.
Ryan also repeated his support for President Trump's elimination of federal subsidies that insurance companies used to reduce premiums on plans sold under the federal health care law that Republicans have been unsuccessful in replacing.
Ryan reiterated that he supports a comprehensive health care overhaul but "giving insurance subsidies to insurance carriers to keep a failed system propped up is not the answer."