Government

Ryan, Portman Differ on Tax Reform Plan

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said Tuesday he is concerned about the proposed deficit spending in the tax reform bill House Republicans are expected to release this week. The same day, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said he’s confident the pro-growth policies he expects the legislation to contain will reduce the deficit.

Ryan, D-13 Ohio, spoke to reporters at his district office in Warren. Portman, R-Ohio, addressed the budget during his weekly conference call with Ohio reporters.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives had been expected to roll out their proposed budget this morning, but it was announced Tuesday that the release was being pushed back until Thursday as details are hashed out.

The U.S. Senate is expected to follow the release of the House plan with its own version in the next week or so, Portman said.

I like what we’re doing because it provides middle-class tax cuts but also gives our economy a needed boost,” he told reporters.

Provisions include a doubling of the standard deduction as well as lowering tax rates for small businesses and C corporations. In Ohio, about three quarters of all businesses are pass-throughs and C corporations represent the rest, Portman said. C corporations will get a lower rate and be more competitive internationally for the first time since the 1960s, he said.

This more competitive global situation will really help to keep companies from leaving,” he said. “Companies in Ohio have left our shores and gone overseas.”

The GOP senator said he did not know if the plan would get any Democraticic support but hoped it would be bipartisan. The process is “much different” than the approach Republicans took on health care, with hearings in the Finance Committee and the opportunity for members to offer amendments.

We’ll have an open discussion, which I think would have been good for health care,” Portman said.

Ryan told reporters he would look at the tax proposal through the lens of whether it would help middle-class families in northeastern Ohio. He said he is concerned about deficit spending of up to potentially $2 trillion to pay for the tax cuts called for, “meaning we’re going to have to borrow a lot of money,” at the same time cuts are made to essential investments that can help growthe economy grow and programs to assess social needs.

Among the issues that concern Ryan is the proposed elimination of the home mortgage deduction, one that working-class families utilize.

I don’t see anything in this tax cut bill that is going to incentivize global corporations or American corporations to invest in our communities,” he said.

If proposed changes in how businesses are taxed are approved, Portman contends the package will provide a needed “shot in the arm” to the economy and economic growth will be enough to make the plan deficit-neutral over 10 years.

Although broadly supportive of what is being proposed, Portman has expressed reservations about proposed change in deductions for contributions to 401(k) plans. Some individuals, particularly young people, “want to get the gratification of that deduction in order to save,” he remarked.

The last thing we would want to do is discourage people from saving.”

During his news conference, Ryan also weighed in on the recent developments in the Russia investigation, including the indictments of Paul Manafort, former chairman of President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, a Manafort associate, and the cooperation of Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos with special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation.

I’ve said from the very beginning we have to let Mueller do his job and it seems like he’s doing his job,” Ryan said. Although every American should be concerned about the investigation, regardless of party, he acknowledged most Americans are concerned with trying to make ends meet.

It’s not like one candidate was trying to get some dirt on another candidate by meeting with tax attorneys or previous business associates. They were meeting with associates of Vladimir Putin, who is trying to undermine the United States at every turn,” he said. “This is something we all need to be concerned about.”

Portman, in an email following his conference call, expressed his support for the Mueller investigation.

We know that Russia has tried to influence our elections since long before 2016 and they’re going to continue to do so moving forward unless we do something about it,” he said.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.