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Rep. Harris: Tax Plan Is A Good Compromise Of House, Senate Measures


This week may be a big moment for President Trump, Republicans in Congress, really the entire conservative movement. The House and Senate are poised to pass a Republican tax bill and send it to the president's desk. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin went out over the weekend to sell the bill. Here he is on CBS's "Face The Nation" yesterday.


STEVEN MNUCHIN: People said we wouldn't get this done. We're on the verge of getting this done, the single biggest change to the tax system ever that President Trump is going to sign this week. And his priority all along has been fix a broken system.

GREENE: Congressman Andy Harris, a Republican representing parts of Maryland, supported this legislation and joins us this morning. Congressman, how are you?

ANDY HARRIS: Good morning. Good to be with you.

GREENE: Well, thanks for the time. I know the final 500-page bill came out Friday night. Anything in this last final version surprise you?

HARRIS: No, you know, it was a compromise between the House and Senate versions. Both versions were good for the economy. The compromise, it's a good compromise, it'll deliver the votes we need to deliver tax reform.

GREENE: I know one of the concerns has been that some of the big tax cuts here would increase the deficit. And one thing that is in this legislation to try and guard against that is reducing the federal deduction that people can take on their state and local taxes. People in highly taxed states, they rely on that deduction. Isn't that going to hit taxpayers in your state, Maryland, pretty hard?

HARRIS: No because, you know, we had a $10,000 limit on deductions of property and the state and local taxes, which was different from the House bill. For middle-class Marylanders, that's going to be fine. And, you know, the president all along said this is targeted to the middle class. The individual taxpayers who are going to benefit most proportionately are the middle class.

GREENE: You say they're going to be fine. I just want to work this through with you. If you're a Marylander who is no longer able to deduct as much of your state and local taxes as you used to, I mean, that could be a hit. You're saying that overall, this is going to be fine because - and this is the assumption a lot of conservatives make - that the tax cuts for corporations will trickle down eventually and help everyone.

HARRIS: Oh, no, not at all. This is not trickle down. And, you know, in Maryland, if your taxable income is $90,000, and that clearly is middle class, if your taxable income, so that's after your $24,000 deduction, is $90,000, you're going to pay more than $3,000 less in taxes. That's before you get the effect on the economy and on wages of allowing productivity and increased capital expenses to be taken by corporations, all things that will improve our competitiveness in a global economy.

So for the middle class in Maryland, there is, again, for the family earning $90,000 dollars taxable income after their $24,000 standard deduction, they're taking home $3,000 more a year in a tax cut. Plus, there's going to be the benefit of what this does to the economy.

GREENE: Can we agree though, I mean, there've been a lot of different independent analysis of this suggesting that the bulk of the direct relief will be for the wealthy and corporations. But isn't the true essence of this, and I think Stephen Moore, the right-leaning economist, we've had him on this program many times, spoke to it. I mean, he says this has the potential to be a huge triumph for conservatives but also a riverboat gamble because it relies on this assumption that if you cut taxes significantly for corporations in the country, that that will eventually be passed on to people.

Do you agree that that's a riverboat gamble?

HARRIS: Not at all. I mean, the facts are simple. When you make it easier for American companies and small and family-run businesses to be competitive in a global economy, we will prevail. Our economy will improve. So I don't think it's a riverboat gamble. I think that all the projections - and with regards to the bulk of this going to corporations and wealthy individuals, you know, small and family-owned businesses gain because of the cuts to what are called the pass-through corporations. So, yeah, if you lump them in with, you know, the large corporations, then a lot of this benefit goes to people who hire other people because in the end, that's what business is.

It's an entity that hires other people, provides jobs for Americans. And I think this is the way you revive a stagnant economy. Under President Obama, growth was limited to - average growth less than 2 percent GDP growth. That's historically low, way worse than America can do. And this bill will unleash the American economy.

GREENE: Taken all together, I mean, if you have Stephen Moore saying this is a riverboat gamble, if you have some polling, I mean, there's a poll out from Quinnipiac last week showing 55 percent of voters disapprove of this proposal, are you worried about the electoral consequences if you can't point to real relief in the near term?

HARRIS: Not at all. And, you know, taking Stephen Moore's quote out of context - I mean, look, the fact of the matter is if you talk more at length with Stephen Moore, he understands that this is what will stimulate the economy. But this is not a gamble. People will in their first paychecks in 2018 when this kicks in, they will see that they are paying less federal income tax. The bottom line is that the media's done a terrible job. And again, in Maryland, Marylanders don't know that if you earn $90,000 family income, you're going to pay $3,000 less in taxes with this bill because they've been told by the media, honestly, that this is not a tax cut.

In fact, it's a huge tax cut. It's the largest tax cut ever in American history. And it's directed, proportionately, at the middle class in terms of individuals who gain this tax advantage.

GREENE: Much more to talk about as this bill is passed. And then we'll continue the conversation. Andy Harris is a Republican congressman from Maryland. Thanks so much.

HARRIS: Thank you. Have a good day. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.