WASHINGTON - The White House and GOP leaders plan to reveal new details of their goal of cutting corporate and individual taxes the week of Sept. 25, and are imploring lawmakers to reach a budget agreement that could smooth its passage.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, told other House Republicans during a closed-door meeting that they needed to unify or the effort to cut taxes could fail, according to two people in the room. The announcement is part of a GOP leadership effort to create momentum and excitement for an eventual tax overhaul and assuage skeptical conservatives frustrated that details of the plan remain closely guarded by leaders.
Brady told his colleagues that "the stakes are higher than ever that we deliver this year." But members emerged from the meeting saying they had little idea what specific tax changes leaders would be asking them to support.
"I don't have any details," said House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C. "I don't understand why there are no details, especially since our leadership said we would have details on tax reform months ago."
Later in the morning, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left open the possibility that the tax plan would cut government revenue, adding to the government's budget deficit but potentially averting the need to make tough choices that could leave the legislation tangled in a political thicket.
"We want pro-growth tax reform that will get the economy growing, that will get people back to work, that will give middle-income taxpayers a tax cut, and that will put American businesses in a better competitive playing field so that we keep American businesses in America," Ryan said at an Associated Press event.
Ryan, who had spent years blasting policymakers for not doing enough to tackle the deficit and the debt, had earlier pledged a "revenue-neutral" tax bill, but the failure of the GOP health care legislation has scrambled party leaders' plans.
Trump added to the confusion about what the plan will include when he told reporters later in the day that wealthy Americans could see a tax increase.
His remarks were at odds with a description of the plan given a day earlier by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who predicted that many wealthy Americans would see a tax cut.
So far, White House and GOP negotiators have areas of overlap but also areas of disagreement in their tax cut approach.