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Ryan: Election losses pressures GOP to deliver on taxes

  • Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, joined at right by Rep. Pat Meehan, R-Pa., makes a point as the House Ways and Means Committee continues its debate over the Republican tax reform package, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite

  • The House Ways and Means Committee continues its debate over the Republican tax reform package, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite

  • Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., joined at left by Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, defends the GOP tax reform plan being crafted in the Ways and Means Committee this week, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite



Associated Press
Wednesday, November 08, 2017

House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Republican drubbing in Tuesday night’s elections “just puts more pressure on making sure we follow through” on the party’s drive to overhaul the tax code.

Ryan’s comments on Wednesday came as the House Ways and Means Committee entered its third day of debate on the nearly $6 trillion legislation, with the panel wading through dozens of amendments. Republicans are determined to produce tax cuts and send a bill to President Donald Trump by Christmas to protect their congressional majorities in next year’s elections.

“We’ve got to get on with keeping our promise, and one of the chief promises we made when we ran for office ... in 2016 was that we would do tax reform and tax cuts for families, for people, and so we’ve got to get on with that,” Ryan said at an event held by the Washington Examiner.

His pledge to deliver on taxes came on the same day as a new government analysis of the House bill found its costs to the nation’s debt are at least $259 billion greater over the coming decade. That’s because of the interest costs the government has to absorb to borrow more money to keep the government running – and that puts the debt cost of the measure at $1.7 trillion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Ryan spoke hours after Republicans lost gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey by large margins in off-year elections that appear to be a bad omen for GOP chances in next year’s midterms. The tax rewrite effort has assumed even greater significance in the wake of the GOP failure to repeal the Obama health care law.

“If anything, this just puts more pressure on making sure we follow through,” Ryan said. “That’s what I take out of it.”

As the House panel pushed to finish, the Senate’s tax bill started to take shape.

That version is expected to completely repeal the federal deduction for state and local taxes, a flashpoint of contention for Republican lawmakers from high-tax states like New York and New Jersey, as well as for Democrats. Concessions were made in the House bill with a partial repeal.

The Senate measure also would retain the medical expense deduction, which the House plan eliminates. And the Senate would keep today’s seven personal income tax brackets, not collapse them into four like the House bill.

Republicans hope to garner Democratic support for their politically necessary legislation, which would bring the first major revamp of the U.S. tax code in 30 years. Trump’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn met with Senate Democrats on Tuesday as Trump phoned in from his Asia trip.

Democrats, though, weren’t buying Trump’s argument that the emerging GOP tax bill would hurt wealthy people, as he was said to have claimed during the call.