Rauner says he’s ‘applauding Congress’ on tax bill: report – Government News

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29 November 2017 | 2:56 pm

Gov. Bruce Rauner spoke today about the GOP tax bill in an interview with southern Illinois radio station WJPF, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The governor in his radio interview said he hopes the federal government makes the tax code “more competitive and lowers [the] tax burden.”

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“We need to reduce the tax burden on our working families, we need to reduce the tax burden on our companies, especially our small businesses that create most of the jobs. I’m applauding Congress. I hope they come through,” Rauner said.

CONSERVATIVE GROUPS UNCONVINCED

Rauner’s comments come as a key concession is drawing sharp opposition from conservative groups and some lawmakers.

The Senate Budget Committee approved the bill on a party-line vote of 12-11 Tuesday, but only after Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said he bargained for adding a controversial provision: a so-called revenue trigger that would impose tax increases if the tax bill’s cuts raise the federal deficit.

That victory for Corker—who said he has “an agreement in principle” to add the trigger—sparked condemnation from other Republicans, despite a lack of detail about how the provision would work. It has already been criticized by GOP-friendly interest groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s the first thing that’s come up that gives me pause about this bill,” said Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana. Even before the committee vote, Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said a revenue trigger would hobble the bill’s ability to spur economic growth.

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Senate Republican leaders need to corral at least 50 votes from their 52 members to pass the measure without any Democrats. Adding the revenue trigger might help secure three GOP votes—from Corker, Oklahoma’s James Lankford and Arizona’s Jeff Flake—but it’s not yet clear how many it would put at risk.

Kennedy initially indicated on Tuesday that a trigger provision would never get his vote—he said he’d rather drink weed killer. But he later walked that back, saying he had told Lankford he would keep “an open mind.”

Republican Senator John Boozman of Arkansas said he’s waiting to see the written provision, but “there might be ways they want to accomplish this that I would oppose.”

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, who’ll have to sign off on a final version of the trigger, said he’s worried. “Every little thing is a worry,” the Utah Republican said. “We can’t afford to lose more than two. We are very concerned about it.”

HOW MUCH GROWTH?

The bill that is headed for the Senate floor would cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent, beginning in 2019. It would also cut individual tax rates and double the standard deduction before wiping those individual changes off the books in 2026. The bill is estimated to increase federal deficits by $1.4 trillion over 10 years—though its backers say it would ultimately prompt enough economic growth to cover those gaps.

Independent analyses have found that the bill wouldn’t produce that growth—and Congress’s official tax scorekeeper, the Joint Committee on Taxation, has yet to weigh in with a macroeconomic analysis. This week, that committee said in a letter that it may complete such a study on Wednesday.

But Corker, Lankford and Flake have said they want assurances that the cuts wouldn’t boost the national debt.

Details of how the revenue trigger would work were scant Tuesday — and Corker said they may not emerge until Thursday. North Carolina Representative Mark Meadows, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said he’s received an early description of the mechanism from Lankford:

If the economy failed to achieve enough growth to cover the bill’s tax cuts, the corporate tax rate would increase by 1 percentage point in the fifth year of the plan, Meadows said. He added that he’d be willing to entertain the idea.

It’s not clear whether that description was still valid by Tuesday evening — Senate Republican leaders were tight-lipped. Corker said he had gotten buy-in — in principle—from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, from the tax-writing Finance Committee, “and the White House has been in the midst of all this too.”

“It will be part of the base bill,” Corker said.

White House officials were staying out of the trigger debate Tuesday evening. One senior official described the issue as a “member to member conversation” for senators, and said it won’t be one of President Donald Trump’s red-line issues.

With Bloomberg News



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