Trump to make final tax push as Republican negotiators near deal

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[December 13, 2017]  By Amanda Becker and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump will make a final push on Wednesday to shepherd a Republican tax overhaul over the finish line, hosting congressional negotiators for lunch before delivering a speech in which he will make his closing arguments for the legislation.

Republican tax writers from the Senate and House of Representatives worked into Tuesday evening to reconcile differences between the separate plans passed by each chamber, but key details, including a final corporate rate, remained in flux.

Both bills proposed slashing the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent, but negotiators were discussing on Tuesday whether that rate may rise to 21 percent in the final bill, lawmakers said.

Tax writers were also still determining a top rate for individual taxpayers and weighing how to best scale back popular individual deductions for mortgage interest and local tax payments that the Senate and House bills treated differently.

"We're still talking," No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn said late Tuesday of a possible 21 percent corporate rate.

With a meeting of the official bipartisan negotiating committee scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, Republicans were still trying to finalize key details without exacerbating the deficit impact of legislation that could add as much as $1.5 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, according to independent estimates.

Trump is seeking to sign a tax bill by the end of the year in order to mark Republicans' first major legislative victory since they took control of both chambers of Congress and the White House in January.

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President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during his visit at the Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, Mississippi, U.S. December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Trump will, after hosting Republican lawmakers for lunch, deliver his speech on tax legislation alongside five middle-class families who would benefit, senior administration officials said.

He was expected to counter claims the Republican tax plan would largely benefit corporations and the wealthy by highlighting how it would also cut rates for lower- and middle-income taxpayers, who could see additional benefits, such as higher wages, result from the corporate rate cut, the officials said.

Independent government analyses by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, which assists congressional tax writers, and the Congressional Budget Office, which examines the budget impact of legislation, both concluded that wealthier taxpayers would disproportionately benefit from the Republican proposals.

When asked who stands to benefit most from Republican tax legislation, more than half of American adults selected either the wealthy or large U.S. corporations, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday.


(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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