Ryan focuses on tax reform in Darien

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Jim Dayton
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

DARIEN—U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan stuck to his tax reform agenda Monday even as news of a special federal investigation's first indictments rattled Washington politics.

The Speaker of the House visited Royal Basket Trucks in Darien to tour the factory and hold a town hall with a few dozen local business executives.

Ryan focused on tax reform and said little about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump's campaign.

The first dominoes of the months-long investigation fell Monday when former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates were indicted on federal charges.

In addition, unsealed court documents revealed former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty three weeks ago to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia.

“I have nothing to add to these indictments other than this is what Bob Mueller was tasked to do,” Ryan told reporters after the town hall. “I haven't read the indictments. I don't know the specific details of the indictments, but that is how the judicial process works.”

Ryan led off his tax reform speech by saying the United States needs to be economically competitive with other countries. The tax code, which has been in place since 1986, is outdated and prevents the American economy from thriving, he said.

He said a simplified tax system would allow people to file their taxes on a postcard. Clearing tax clutter would allow businesses to make more investments, hire more employees and raise wages, Ryan said.

Royal Basket Trucks makes vinyl carts used in commercial laundry, hospitality and professional sports facilities nationwide. Ryan said he spoke to some Royal employees, mostly middle-class taxpayers, during his tour, and they favored his plan.

“Lowering their tax rates puts more money in their pocket in the first place, gives them a break on their taxes,” Ryan said. “Reducing the loopholes in the tax code makes the whole thing fairer for everybody. That is why we're seeing an outpouring of support from the middle class for this kind of relief.”

The House bill would reduce tax rates for all kinds of businesses, Ryan said. Those that receive tax breaks would not be required to spend that money a certain way.

Ryan was optimistic Congress could pass a tax reform bill by the end of this year. It's an aggressive timeline, but lawmakers need to move quickly to spark economic growth in 2018, he said.

Most business owners at the town hall seemed to agree with Ryan's views on tax reform. Two suggested the Republican Party needs to refine its economic message and make it clear the party is helping the middle class.

While Ryan stuck to his tax reform talking points, some pundits used social media to question his timing as the Mueller investigation begins to accelerate.

Asked again for his reaction to the indictments, Ryan demurred as the event came to a close.

“It is big news. But this is what you get from a special counsel. They made an indictment,” Ryan said. “I really have nothing to add because I haven't even read it. I'm not going to speculate on something I haven't read. There's just no point in doing that.”

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