Paul Ryan: Failure of Obamacare Replacement Makes Tax Reform Harder

The White House tried very hard Friday to send a clear message that the success of President Donald Trump’s tax and infrastructure agenda does not turn on the fate of the Obamacare replacement bill.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, only minutes after pulling his health care bill, appeared to at least partially contradict that.

“Yes. This does make tax reform more difficult,” Ryan said. “But it does not in any way make it impossible.”

Even though Ryan went on to say the House would “proceed with tax reform,” he appeared to be far less optimistic than the two top Trump administration economic officials who spoke earlier on Friday. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin both had essentially the same message Friday morning: plans for tax reform, job creation, trade deals, and infrastructure spending remain intact regardless of what happen to the health care bill.

Standing on the White House lawn Friday morning, Mulvaney told CNBC that President Trump decided to stop negotiating with lawmakers over the healthcare bill because he “has other things he wants to do.”

“He wants to get tax reform done. He wants an infrastructure bill approved. He’s got other jobs programs moving through the White House,” Mulvaney said.

Mulvaney went on to say that the White House does not believe tax reform will turn “one way or the other” based on the fate of the Obamacare replacement bill.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Friday morning said passing a tax-code overhaul would be easier than replacing Obamacare.

“In a way, it’s a lot simpler,” Mnuchin said at an event sponsored by Axios. “In health care, it’s a much, much more complicated issue.”

The administration is close to completing its tax reform proposal, according to Mnuchin. He said that the proposal would be aimed at delivering a tax cut for the middle class and would include reforms to both personal and corporate taxes. The administration would push to get Congress to pass a tax bill before the August recess, Mnuchin said.

Many in the business community and on Wall Street have recently voiced concerns that tax reform might be stalled until 2018 or even later.

Mnuchin also spoke about the administration’s infrastructure spending plan, saying that he expected most of the $1 trillion to be financed primarily by private capital backed by loan-guarantees and private-public partnerships. 


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