Sen. Sherrod Brown has warning for GOP on taxes

By Jack Torry

Washington Bureau

Sen. Sherrod Brown warned if Republicans try to overhaul the tax code without enlisting Democratic support, a chance of “comprehensive pro-growth reform” will collapse much like the health-care bill did this summer.

On the same day President Donald Trump was delivering a speech in North Dakota about revising the tax code, Brown, D-Ohio, said Wednesday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has appeared to settle on a strategy that will end with only a major tax cut for the wealthy.

“I am convinced we can do tax reform if Mitch McConnell would open it up just the way we could have made significant changes -- important changes -- in the Affordable Care Act if Senator McConnell had opened it up,” Brown told reporters on a conference call.

“I would have thought he had learned his lesson from the health care bill,” Brown said. “I am convinced he will not get a pro-growth policy through. I think he might get just get a tax cut for the wealthy, the one percent.”

McConnell has indicated that he might try and push through a bill to revise the tax code through a parliamentary maneuver which would allow Republicans to pass a bill with just 52 of the Senate Republicans.

By doing so, they would not need to muster 60 votes to end any potential Democratic delaying tactics. But with such a slender margin of only 52 Republicans, McConnell may have trouble getting enough Republican votes to pass a major bill which would eliminate many deductions, simplify the tax code and lead to lower individual income tax rates.

Brown joined 42 other Senate Democrats and independents Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine last month to say they would oppose a tax overhaul bill if it included a major tax reduction for the wealthiest one percent of Americans.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who has been a major advocate of overhauling and simplifying the tax code, told Ohio reporters Wednesday “there is an opportunity for us to get something done on a bipartisan basis.”

“Having said that, if we can’t get it done on a bipartisan basis, we would have to push forward and get something done” largely with Republican votes, Portman said on a conference call.

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 9: Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, listens as the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Democrats hold a news conference to highlight the impacts of the government shutdown on veterans on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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