As the debate heats up over the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) discussed the repeal and replace process, the timeline for the Republican agenda and plans for tax reform with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Network’s Mornings with Maria.
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Speaker Ryan responded to warnings from Republican Senators that the GOP health care plan will not become law without fundamental changes.
“Well, obviously we’re going through the legislative process. Here, it’s a four committee process, so obviously as we go through this, we make refinements and improvements to the bill. That is occurring, that’s how the legislative process works. And, by the way, Senators, they’re not helpless to what the House does.”
Despite those refinements and improvements, Ryan said the core components of the plan will remain.
“Now that we have our score from the CBO, that’s something we were waiting for, now that we’ve got it, we’ve got room to make refinements. Obviously, the major components are staying intact because this is something we wrote with President Trump, this is something we wrote with the Senate committees.”
With some lawmakers such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) raising concerns that the GOP plan is ‘Obamacare Lite’ because it continues to expand Medicaid, Bartiromo asked if the plan will shift Medicaid to the states.
“That is what we do, that’s where I’m really kind of confused about this lost in translation. This legislation gives a per capita block grant back to the states. It turns Medicaid over to the states and the states run it from there.”
According to Ryan, the plan would also end Medicaid expansion.
“It says we’re going to phase down these expansions so there’s no more Medicaid expansion. It says we’re not going to give these exorbitant reimbursement rates from the federal government.”
Ryan supported the decision to focus on health care first before addressing tax reform because he believes the tax increases removed by the GOP health care plan would help make tax reform easier.
“This bill also takes out about $900 billion of tax increases, the Obamacare tax increases are taken out which makes it $900 billion easier to reform the tax code afterward. That’s why this is really important.”
On the other hand, Ryan did acknowledge that the political debate over health care could make the process of tax reform more difficult.
“It makes tax reform a lot harder, it makes it more difficult, but we all know that we have to get tax reform if we want to get economic growth. If we want to get out of the slug that we’re in with the lowest smallest peacetime expansion since World War II, we must do tax reform.”
Despite the challenges, Ryan is still optimistic tax reform would be accomplished.
“I know we will get to consensus on how to do tax reform.”
Ryan also explained the disparity between the House Republican tax reform plan that would reduce the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20% and Trump’s calls for a 15% corporate tax rate.
“We love 15%, but again, here’s the point, we also know that the left does not believe in what we’re trying to do on tax reform. They don’t want us to lower tax rates.”
Because of the opposition, Ryan said the bill has to be revenue neutral.
“We believe we can have a revenue neutral tax reform bill with corporate tax rate of 20%, but we don’t think 15% gets there.”