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Aide tries to refocus U.S. tax debate after Trump's corporate rate remark

Aide tries to refocus U.S. tax debate after Trump's corporate rate remark
From Reuters - December 7, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trumps weekend remark about a scaled-back tax cut for corporations sparked behind-the-scenes debate in the U.S. Congress, with a White House aide trying on Thursday to minimize the impact of the presidents comment.

Two rival tax bills, passed separately by the Senate and the House of Representatives, propose cutting the U.S. corporate tax rate to 20 percent, but they differ in other areas that Republicans are trying to merge into final legislation.

Speaking to reporters after the Senate approved its tax bill on Saturday, Trump said the corporate tax rate in the final legislation, expected soon from lawmakers, could be 22 (percent) ... it could also be 20 (percent).

The remark whetted the interest of some Republicans who see a slight upward bump in the proposed corporate tax rate ascapturing needed federal revenue that would help solve other problems with the legislation, according to lobbyists.

The 20 percent rate ought to be our goal, said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, who is expected to head a bicameral House-Senate negotiating committee.

My view is the president is giving us flexibility in that area if its needed. No decisions been made on if thats needed, the Texas Republican told reporters.

But White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told Reuters on Thursday that Trump was not voicing support for a higher proposed corporate rate. Instead, he may have been only expressing views conveyed to him by Republican senators.

I think he was just reflecting what conversations he had heard from them, but that ... wasnt intended to signal: this is an endorsement of raising the corporate rate, Short said.

We believe that 20 percent is the right number ... 20 percent is about as high as we feel comfortable going, he said in an interview.

Trump and his Republican allies have plenty riding on what happens over the next few weeks.

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