White House split on import tax puts Congress in limbo

The Washington Post

March 3, 2017

By Damian Paletta

A major split among senior White House officials over whether to effectively create a new tax on imported goods has stalled the broader tax overhaul effort on Capitol Hill, with Republicans looking to the Trump administration for leadership on an issue that has drawn fierce resistance, according to several officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, senior adviser Stephen Miller and National Trade Council director Peter Navarro have all voiced internal support for the creation of a border adjustment tax or something like it. They believe it would incentivize companies to keep jobs in the United States and raise the cost of items that are imported.

But Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn have raised concerns, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations are private. They are backed by a number of Senate Republicans who have told the White House they would block any bill that creates a new tax on imports.

The divide has the potential to scuttle one of President Trump’s top domestic agenda items — tax reform, which he views as key to boosting the economy and prompting employers to create more jobs in the United States.

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