Paul Ryan Sees Summer Deadline for Tax Reform

Paul Ryan Sees Summer Deadline for Tax Reform
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Rep. Paul Ryan set a fairly aggressive timeline for tax reform on Friday, saying that unless it’s done by the end of this summer, he doesn’t think it will happen before President Obama leaves office.

Ryan, who took over last month as the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, has made reforming the tax code one of his top priorities. Because of the budget timeline and political considerations, Ryan said reform would likely need to be completed by the time Congress breaks for its annual month-long vacation in August.

“My guess is tax reform is a 2015 thing for sure, and I think it’s got to be done by the end of the summer,” Ryan told reporters at a briefing Friday afternoon in the Capitol. “If it goes past summer, it’s hard to see. If it goes into the fall, then we start a new budget cycle; it’s hard to see how that gets done.”

Ryan’s goal is to take on comprehensive tax reform both for businesses and individuals. With a divided government, however, the Wisconsin Republican admitted that it would be difficult to get comprehensive reform done this year. He said he’s open to doing it in stages, starting with business taxes and working towards individual tax reform in the coming years.

“I think we’re going to reform this tax code somewhere between one and three years away and if we can do part of it in year one, great,” Ryan said. “But if we have to wait for year three to do it all, so be it, as long as we get it done.”

Ryan also spoke briefly about the pending Supreme Court decision on Obamacare. King v. Burwell challenges the legality of tax subsidies through the health-care law for states with federal exchanges. Ryan said Republicans need to develop a “contingency plan” in case the court rules against the subsidies.

“We think we need to have an option … a plan for these states that might find themselves in this difficult position” of losing the tax subsidies, Ryan said. He added that he is working on a full replacement for Obamacare, but the short-term focus is on the court case.

The nine-term congressman, who was the Republican Party’s nominee for vice president in 2012, has already pulled himself out of the likely 2016 presidential field. He said part of the reason is because he felt he could accomplish more in the next two years as chairman of ways and means, with a focus on tax reform, trade agreements, health-care reform and other policy areas.

“One of the reasons why I decided to pull myself out of this presidential business early is I see a window of getting things done and I don’t want to be clouded with that,” Ryan said. “So that’s why I’m here doing this job, because I see some opportunities. I don’t know that we’ll get them but I want to try.”

Asked if he can see himself repeating 2012 and being selected as a presidential running mate, Ryan laughed at the notion. “That doesn’t happen twice. I’m not even thinking about that.”

James Arkin is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at jarkin@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @JamesArkin.

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