House Speaker Paul Ryan said Friday that Republicans will include a fourth income tax bracket in their tax-overhaul plan so that top earners "do not see a big rate cut."
"This is about the people, about half of which in this country are living paycheck to paycheck, and giving them a break on their taxes," Ryan said on "CBS This Morning." The speaker said he disagreed with White House economic adviser Gary Cohn’s statement that he can’t guarantee some middle-class Americans won’t pay more taxes under the plan.
The tax framework Republicans issued last month called for collapsing the current seven income tax brackets into three—12 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent—while leaving open the possibility of a fourth rate for the highest earners. He said it hasn’t been decided if the fourth bracket will remain at the current top rate of 39.6 percent.
President Donald Trump has said he wants to make sure the tax overhaul’s benefits go to the middle class. Other ways to accomplish that may include at least partly backing off the proposal to eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes, and pushing more income from the 25 percent bracket into the 12 percent bracket.
Ryan said Friday that the tax bill will be finalized in a “number of days.” The House plans to vote on the Senate budget next week, clearing the decks for the tax-writing committees to release a bill.
Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said on CNBC that the House-Senate deal on the budget will speed up the tax-overhaul process by "maybe three weeks." He said the budget debate showed that enough senators support a new tax law that there won’t be a repeat of the failed Obamacare repeal attempt.
Maya MacGuineas, president of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said on CNBC the decision to allow tax cuts that add up to $1.5 trillion to the deficit was a "massive shift" for the Republican party.
"People who don’t care about the deficit and debt are probably cheering about this," she said.