Trump's Charlottesville Uproar Overshadows GOP Tax Plan Roadshow

President Ronald Reagan in 1982

Speaking from former President Ronald Reagan's ranch in California, the Houston-area Republican lamented that Washington has dithered for the last three decades by "sitting on the sidelines and reverting back to bad, old habits".

The ranch, with a replica of the table where Reagan signed an extensive overhaul of the tax code in 1980s, holds special meaning for Republicans looking to replicate the colossal task.

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady confirmed Wednesday that GOP tax policy will include full expensing, which would allow businesses to immediately deduct equipment expenses from their income.

"Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, if you're serious about delivering to pro-growth tax reform to the American people this year, we're serious about working with you", Brady said. The legislation is on an ambitious timeline.

The White House press office didn't respond to a request for comment. Brady has a slightly more conservative timeline- he wants it done by the end of the year.

Kevin Brady, the House's top tax writer, urged Congress on Wednesday to defeat America's "monster of a tax code", saying that lawmakers must face down the "monumental challenge" that's stifling economic growth.

In the meantime, Republicans and their allies in the business community have tried to focus the party's message this month on their tax legislation.

"Thousands of jobs like mine are lost to places like China", says an American worker featured in one ad.

White House officials and Senate leaders were deeply skeptical of a plan from House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that would have cut taxes on exports in an effort to boost US manufacturers.

But Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) was more pointed in his words about the president.

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In Congress, as they did for their failed push to dismantle Obamacare, Republicans are ramping up a nationwide publicity campaign in favor of tax law changes without first deciding on exactly what changes they want to make.

"I strongly condemn the white supremacists, the KKK, the neo-Nazis and the violence and hatred they bring to this", Brady told Bloomberg in a televised interview downtown before his speech. "Lowest point yet", Curbelo said, "and, hopefully, a turning point in some way". Brady said the House blueprint would maintain the mortgage tax deduction and would continue efforts to permanently repeal the death tax.

Trump is pushing tax reform in a polarized, partisan environment. He's all in on it. "He gets the importance to jobs". "The committees are still going to do their work and it's not like we're just going to sit around and talk about issues like this all of the time, but it certainly makes it harder to make a strong case for tax reform to the public because nobody is talking about it".

Throughout their remarks, Brady and others repeatedly referred to the president - the one who served from 1981 through 1988. But President Trump's response to the white nationalist protest in Charlottesville has drowned out that conversation.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? And like most congressional Republicans, he took issue with Trump's ambiguity in denouncing white supremacists.

"I'm of the mind of the stumbles on health care put a lot of pressure on members to get to 'yes, ' " Roskam said, arguing Republican lawmakers see the necessity of nailing down a victory. But in contrast to the bipartisan effort behind Reagan's tax rewrites, Republicans have made it clear that they plan to craft a new tax code on their own.

Republicans have only a few months to overcome internal divisions and other obstacles if they want to get tax legislation signed into law before January 1.

"There's still an expectation that there will be some sort of tax bill that gets to the president's desk that he can sign before the midterm elections", said Rohit Kumar, a tax policy expert at accounting and consulting group PwC and a former senior Senate tax aide. So yeah, there's always going to be noise, but this is the biggest thing I'll ever vote on.

They were peppered with questions from reporters about the incident, and asked if they remained confident in the Republican president.


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