Interviews

Rep. Kevin Brady: Tax reform must be permanent

On 'Your World,' the House Ways and Means Committee chairman discusses the Republican timeline for tax cuts

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," May 18, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, a quick peek at the market today, up 56 points. We have the treasury secretary on Capitol Hill. He's still very optimistic that tax reform is going to happen.

Is the guy who has been shepherding this process before anyone else just as confident?

The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee joining us exclusively right now, Kevin Brady.

Mr. Chairman, very good to have you. Thanks for taking the time.

REP. KEVIN BRADY, R-TEXAS: No, thanks, Neil. It's a good day on tax reform, in my view.

CAVUTO: Yes. OK.

Let's talk a little bit about that, because everyone is thinking that you are going to have like a Comey kind of investigation, Robert Mueller distraction, all of that kind of thing going on that is going to push your priorities way back.

BRADY: Yes, and I don't think that's the case.

Look, I -- one, we're working every day, weekends, evenings on this, the Trump tax thing, Secretary Mnuchin, Gary Cohn, same thing. We're meeting regularly on all of this.

So, look, we're still focused on delivering this in 2017. I think Secretary Mnuchin's testimony today confirmed that. And the Ways and Means held a major hearing on tax reform. And the message from those job creators -- and some have 80 workers and some have 80,000 -- was, go bold. Go permanent. But go now. Get this done this year.

CAVUTO: And there are similar sentiment in among your Senate colleagues, the same thing, right?

BRADY: Yes, there is. I think there's strong support for this.

And so, look, there is a lot of these other noise issues, but, boy, we're just so focused on tax reform. We have to deliver it this year.

CAVUTO: Do you think tax cuts should be revenue-neutral, Chairman?

BRADY: Yes, to be -- I think tax reform ought to be permanent.

If we want businesses to make those investments, both here in the U.S. and to bring their supply chains back to the United States, this can't be a temporary measure. And if you're looking for the most growth for the greatest number of years, go bold, make it permanent and certain and, by the way, make it balanced within the budget. And I think we can do all three.

CAVUTO: All right, so that seems to not quite jib with the president, who says he wants to prime the pump. He was telling the economists that sometimes -- I think what he's saying there is you have to go into deficits before you come out of them with some big revenues from tax cuts.

BRADY: Well, and I think he's right. And I don't think the two are mutually exclusive.

I think we can -- we will, I think, in every bold tax reform, we are going to lose some revenues in those early years. You're going to make them back in later years. But, more importantly, if you do it right, and you make it permanent, you are going to see even greater growth through all of those years.

CAVUTO: All right, so, I guess here's where I'm confused, sir, on revenue neutrality. I don't mean to put either you or our audience to sleep, even though you know this stuff like the back of your hand, is that you are not necessarily of the opinion right off the bat that tax cuts have to be paid for, but that over a 10-year horizon, they do?

BRADY: Yes. Yes.

CAVUTO: OK.

BRADY: And, look, that's a traditional approach on the budget. You can measure it pretty well.

And so, that way, look, that way, we can also pass it to the president's desk with 51 votes in the Senate. So, that gives us the vehicle not just to go bold and deliver it, but to make it permanent. That's why we're focused on that approach.

CAVUTO: All right, so, let's say, hypothetically, sir, this were a fall event after the health care rework and they make progress there in the Senate, sent it back to you, whatever. I know that has to be done first.

Is it your goal to make these tax cuts, whenever you and however you agree to them, retroactive to January 1? Or is it too late in the year to even consider that?

BRADY: Yes, great question. I think timing will drive a lot of that.

I think some of these provisions...

CAVUTO: What is a drop-dead date by which time it's too late to consider going retroactive?

BRADY: Yes, not known, to be honest.

Obviously, if we were finishing this midsummer, by August, you would be retroactive. Later in the year, it's maybe a different call.

But some provisions I think be immediate, like the full and unlimited expensing will hit day one. So it really depends on the timing.

CAVUTO: All right, now, a lot of the changes that you guys were making, for example, in the health care law, a lot of those taxes go away and a lot of them go away this year, but not all, right?

BRADY: Yes.

So, under the bill the House passed, almost all of them go away as of January 1 retroactive, which I think really helps on the economy as well.
And certainly for us, we need a trillion dollars out of the economy -- of those tax hikes out of the economy.

CAVUTO: Is it your sense, Congressman, that these differences and what's going on with the president and now all of these -- he calls them distractions, Democrats say they're justifiable questions about overuse of power, that it is going to be a very divisive summer, in that just if you were hoping for Democratic support on what you're doing on taxes, you're just not going to get it now?

BRADY: I think it was always going to be difficult.

Today's hearing, most of the Democrats in the Ways and Means Committee talked about the need to do overall comprehensive tax reform, lower rates, actually help the middle class. Now, they have some different conditions on how to do that.

That is a fair discussion, in my view. And at the end of the day, will they support a major Trump tax reform plan? I don't know. But, in fact, we're meeting with Democrats in the House yesterday, right after this TV interview as well, just to try to see if there is common ground.

CAVUTO: All right.

So, real quickly, then, is it your sense now that you will still have a tax package ready, that if it goes into next year, it's unlikely to happen next year?

BRADY: Yes, we're focused on this year. I think this is where the momentum is going to be. We have got the right people in place. And in my view, and the president is still willing to lead and his team deeply engaged.

CAVUTO: All right, Kevin Brady, House Ways and Means Committee chairman, thank you, sir, very much.

BRADY: Thank you.

CAVUTO: All right.

END

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