MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Taxes are now front and center in Washington. Republicans are moving forward with their effort to remake the tax system. After the failure to repeal Obamacare, one lawmaker says this tax overhaul needs to be a homerun.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
GOP leaders said they will offer a glimpse of a plan by the end of this month. As for an actual law going into effect...
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PAUL RYAN: That plan is to get this done by the end of the year for law so that we start 2018 with a new tax system.
MARTIN: That's Speaker of the House Paul Ryan speaking yesterday to the Associated Press.
KELLY: To talk more about this, we reached Texas Republican Kevin Brady. He is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and one of the so-called Big Six. That's the six senior policymakers leading the tax overhaul effort. Good morning, congressman.
KEVIN BRADY: Good morning. Thanks for having me.
KELLY: How close are you to having a plan?
BRADY: So I think we're getting very close. We're hammering out the final policy details. What we want to do, obviously, is - look, we want to - we're going all in for growth, you know, on jobs and paychecks. And if we do that right, look, we can improve the lives of every American. And so we're really taking our time to get those bold pro-growth policies right. And we're making good progress.
KELLY: What is the major sticking point if you had to point to one?
BRADY: Oh. There is no single one. So, obviously, we want to, for families, lower tax rates at every level and simplify the code so much that 9 out of 10 Americans will be able to file using a simple postcard style system.
KELLY: You talked about lowering taxes for middle-class families. Republicans have also talked about lowering corporate taxes. The president is pushing to get rid of the estate tax. All of those are changes that are going to mean less tax revenue coming in. How on earth are you going to do this in a way that doesn't add to the deficit?
BRADY: Yes. And we want to focus - to balance this within the budget over time. And so part of it comes from stronger economic growth. But, also, that alone won't complete it. So you have to jettison a lot of special provisions for some - lobbyist loopholes, exclusions, all that - so we can lower tax rates for everybody. That's part of going to a much simpler tax code.
KELLY: Can you commit to one specific tax break you would be willing to cut to pay for this?
BRADY: Well, there are lots of them. You know...
KELLY: Name one.
BRADY: ...One of them would be - well, look, there's so many. We'll bring the plan out. And at the end the day, this isn't our tax code. It belongs to the American people. And so if they want something as simple and fair as a postcard, we can deliver for them.
KELLY: But let me ask you again. Is there one single thing that you would be willing to cut?
BRADY: Well, there's dozens. There's dozens. So - and that will be part of the tax reform plan.
KELLY: Let me move on and ask you about the president's investment in this. He's hitting the road. He's touring several states trying to sell this tax plan - something that he did not do back when y'all were trying to pass the health care bill. How invested do you think President Trump is in this tax bill?
BRADY: President's all in on this. I think one of the, you know, early indications was that when he agreed to work with the House and Senate to get together on one unified tax reform plan. That didn't happen in health care. I think that was one of the lessons learned from it.
KELLY: Has he reached out to you? Has he called you?
BRADY: Oh, yeah. Heavens, yeah.
KELLY: And what does he say about what exactly he wants?
BRADY: We just talk about growth. He wants growth and higher paychecks. And he wants to, like us, leapfrog America from about 31st in the world in competitiveness into that lead pack and keep us there. And what that means is it translates into not just more jobs coming back to the United States, but more research, more manufacturing, more headquarters as well.
KELLY: We have heard - Republican members of Congress have told NPR that there is a lack of trust between your party and the point guys that the Trump administration has on this - that would be Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and the White House economic adviser Gary Cohn. Is there a lack of trust?
BRADY: I don't believe so. I can just tell you my experience. I had not worked with Secretary Mnuchin or Director Cohn prior to this working group on tax reform. I've been very impressed with the work they're doing. You know, look, we're all bringing our best ideas to the table, finding that common crown - ground and doing it in a very ambitious timetable. And so I can just tell you the work they've been doing with us in the Senate has been very impressive.
KELLY: And the timetable on that again you said, get this to the president by the end of the year.
BRADY: Yes, by the end of the year. Yes, ma'am.
KELLY: All right. That's Congressman Kevin Brady. Thanks so much for speaking with us.
BRADY: Thank you.
KELLY: Kevin Brady - he's Republican congressman from Texas, chairman of the House ways and means committee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.