May 7, 2017

Paul Ryan’s pivot to tax reform

Evan Vucci / AP

House Speaker Paul Ryan will head to the Buckeye State during this week's Congressional recess to begin his sales pitch for tax reform, according to a source with direct knowledge. After grinding a healthcare bill through the House (a bill that's about to face even more resistance in the Senate), the Speaker should relish the opportunity to change the topic.

  • Ryan travels to Ohio on Wednesday. He'll make the case for tax reform in general and (unsurprisingly) won't emphasize his disagreements with the White House.
  • The Speaker will visit manufacturing companies near Columbus and hold a roundtable discussion with local business leaders.
  • Our source says the event will serve as the beginning of coordinated efforts between House leadership and the administration to sell tax reform.

Between the lines: Ryan obviously favors his own tax plan, endorsed by the rest of House Republican leadership and Ways and Means chair Kevin Brady. The White House also likes a good deal of Ryan's plan, but considers some of its key components politically unfeasible — especially the "border adjustment tax" that would raise more than $1 trillion over ten years by hiking taxes on imports, while cutting taxes on American-made goods that get exported. Private negotiations between the Hill and the White House on the issue will take weeks if not months. In the meantime, Ryan wants to lead a public discussion to generate momentum behind the idea of tax reform.

A big open question: Can Ryan sell tax policy in a way that will appeal to Trump voters across the Rust Belt?

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