G.O.P. Likely to Go It Alone on Tax Overhaul Legislation


Mr. Trump complained about the Senate rules in an interview on CBS on Sunday, suggesting that he would like to see changes that would reduce the ability of Democrats to block his agenda. “I think the rules in Congress, and in particular the rules in the Senate, are unbelievably archaic and slow moving and, in many cases, unfair,” Mr. Trump said. “In many cases, you’re forced to make deals that are not the deal you’d make.”

Some Republicans also appear ready to manipulate longstanding policies. As The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania has suggested that Senate Republicans consider extending the 10-year horizon so that tax cuts that add to the deficit could remain for two or three decades before expiring. Kasia Mulligan, a spokeswoman for Mr. Toomey, said it would require only a simple majority to make such a change.

For now, Republicans are having a hard enough time getting on the same page on how they want to change the tax code. Mr. Mnuchin said on Monday that the White House and House Republicans were 80 percent aligned in terms of the shape of tax legislation. He said that in its current form, the “border adjustment” tax on imports proposed by Speaker Paul D. Ryan is not workable but that he had been meeting weekly with Representative Kevin Brady, the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, to come up with compromises on a tax plan.

At a weekend policy retreat, Republican members of the Ways and Means Committee mulled ways to merge their tax “blueprint” with the principles put forth by the White House. The committee will hold tax overhaul hearings this month and, despite the resistance from the Trump administration, the border adjustment tax will be the subject of public debate.

“There’s a great deal of energy and a great deal of momentum,” said Representative Peter Roskam, the committee’s tax policy chairman. “The concept now is get these themes together and get everybody on the same page.”

Despite those efforts, Mr. Trump’s views on tax policy remain something of a moving target. In an interview with Bloomberg News on Monday, the president said a gasoline tax that would be used to fund highway projects was “something that I would certainly consider.”

The remark appeared to contradict Mr. Mnuchin’s earlier assessment that tax-code overhaul and infrastructure would be handled separately. Sean Spicer, White House press secretary, tried to walk the idea back later in the day.

“There are people on both sides of the aisle, different backgrounds, that come in to see the president and ask him, could you please consider this, will you keep an open mind on it,” Mr. Spicer said. “And I think that’s, frankly, what the president was doing.”

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Source: New York Times



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