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Ted Cruz wants flat tax, lower corporate rates

Andrea Drusch, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Ted Cruz Wednesday unveiled a plan to overhaul the nation's tax code that features a single, flat income tax rate and a simpler system for filing taxes.

The Texas Republican, an influential voice among hardcore conservatives, offered ideas similar in many respects to the plans he offered during his 2016 presidential race, when he proposed collapsing the current seven income tax rates into a single 10 percent rate.

But there were important changes. He did not offer a specific rate this time, and said that he understood that he understood the GOP-controlled Congress could accept a reduction to three tax rates.

"If we don't have to votes for that," Cruz said of his flat tax plan, "moving from seven brackets to three is a good start."

He argued that a simpler tax plan would boost economic growth.

"We must also do all we can in our power to jump-start our stalled economy by fixing our broken tax system, which is what brings us here today," Cruz said. "Now is our moment to remake our tax system from the ground up, employing conservative principles to create a new tax code that is simpler, flatter, and fairer." Cruz was appearing at a "Talking Tax Reform" forum sponsored by the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research group, in Washington.

President Donald Trump and members of Congress have intensified the drive for a tax code rewrite. Centerpiece of the Republican initiative is a simpler tax system with fewer rates.

Cruz adopts most of the Republican ideas. He would reduce the corporate tax rate to between 15 and 20 percent. He'd make the filing process for families fit on a postcard.

He's get rid of the estate tax, long a GOP goal, and would end the alternative minimum tax.

Cruz wants to accomplish this through legislative maneuvers that would have the Senate approve the changes with 51 votes. Sixty are needed to cut off debate, but under the Cruz plan, only the 51 would be needed. Republicans now control 52 of the chamber's 100 seats.

The White House, though, sees a need for Democratic involvement. White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said Tuesday at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast that tax reform would likely depend on support from Democrats, since Republicans had failed to deliver votes on other legislative priorities.

Trump met with both senators from both parties Tuesday night, not including Cruz, to talk tax reform at the White House. He'll do the same with a group of 13 lawmakers from both parties Wednesday night.

Trump took to twitter that same morning urging Congress to "move fast" on tax reform -- a topic where the GOP conference remains strongly divided.

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