Ryan stumps for tax reform at New Balance factory

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House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., visited a New Balance sneaker factory in Massachusetts Thursday, where he pushed for an overhaul of the U.S. tax code.

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"Right now, we've got a tax code that no one really understands enforced by an agency that no one really likes — the IRS," Ryan told a group of workers. "We're going to simplify all of this."

Ryan, speaking in the heavily Democratic state, delivered a stinging indictment of the current tax code, calling it inefficient, unfair and too complicated. He said the tax code puts U.S. businesses at a disadvantage against foreign competitors and overwhelms families who can't fill out their own tax forms.

Ryan said Republicans are working to eliminate tax exemptions, deductions and credits and use the revenue to lower tax rates.

A House Republican plan would lower the top corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. Trump's plan would lower it to 15 percent.

The White House and congressional Republicans have been privately negotiating their tax package for weeks, with no public sign that they're near a consensus. Democrats have been excluded from the talks.

Overhauling the nation's tax system has been a top priority for Republicans, but the stakes have been magnified as lawmakers struggle to repeal Obama's health care law. This week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s, R-Ky., revised effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare failed to garner enough intraparty support to advance through the chamber. The GOP has since floated the idea of a repeal first, replace later measure.

And on Thursday, it was health care that drew protesters to the New Balance factory.

Outside, more than 100 demonstrators held signs and chanted: "Health care for all" and "No hate. No fear. Paul Ryan is not welcome here."

The Massachusetts chapter of the Service Employees International Union, which represents health care workers, organized the rally.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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