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Trump: Tax hike on rich is possible

By STEVE HOLLAND and DAVID MORGAN
Reuters

September 13. 2017 11:54PM


WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the rich might see a hike in taxes as he pursues a major tax overhaul with outreach to Democrats who oppose cutting rates for the wealthy, while Republicans in Congress set a timetable to unveil their plan.

The White House and the Republican-led Congress have not put forth a detailed tax plan despite months of talks that have excluded Democrats. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said an outline would be unveiled during the work week beginning Sept. 25, with congressional tax-writing committees crafting detailed legislation in the subsequent weeks.

Democrats have criticized the Republican tax overhaul efforts as benefiting mainly the wealthiest Americans. Trump, a real estate mogul, said the rich would not be making gains with the plan, which he said was geared toward providing the largest tax cut ever for the middle class and creating jobs.

"I think the wealthy will be pretty much where they are," Trump said of taxes on the rich, without specifying the income level. "If they have to go higher, they'll go higher, frankly."

Trump was to host Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday evening to discuss the legislative agenda with a focus on the tax overhaul after meetings with bipartisan groups of lawmakers on Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon.

"We should be able to come together to make government work for the people," Trump told reporters as he met with eight Democratic and five Republican House members to try to find common ground on taxes as well as immigration and healthcare.

Asked what his message was to skeptical conservatives who worry he is cozying up to Democrats, Trump said: "I'm a conservative, and I will tell you I'm not skeptical. And I think that if we can do things in a bipartisan manner, that'll be great. Now it might not work out."

Trump blindsided Republican leaders last week by striking a deal with Schumer and Pelosi on the U.S. debt limit and federal spending for three months, and also spoke to them about how to resolve the fate of 800,000 young adults brought into the United States illegally as children, the so-called Dreamers.

'No matter what'

Ryan said the outline being worked on now would reflect the consensus of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and the Trump administration.

"I would love to have the Democrats supporting and working with us in a constructive way on tax reform, but we're going to do it no matter what," Ryan said.

Asked about Trump’s comment on a possible tax increase for the wealthy, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said: "My goal is to lower taxes on every American as much as possible and help them keep more of what they earn."

Trump reiterated his goal for a 15 percent corporate tax rate, down from the current 35 percent, even as Ryan and the president's own treasury secretary cast doubt in recent days on the ability to go that low.

"It would bring us to the level where China and other countries are. And we will be able to compete with anybody," Trump said of the 15 percent rate.

There has been no comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. tax code since 1986.


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