Tax reform on the mind of area business leaders

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, wants to create a permanent continuing spending resolution to avoid the threat of a government shutdown every year. “We just can’t seem to get to yes anymore,” he said. Photo by Jeremy Wadsworth/The Blade.
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Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, wants to create a permanent continuing spending resolution to avoid the threat of a government shutdown every year. “We just can’t seem to get to yes anymore,” he said. Photo by Jeremy Wadsworth/The Blade.

Dayton business leaders told U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, last week they are concerned about the United State’s competitiveness in several business sectors — explaining they wanted a reformed tax code to promote business here instead of pushing jobs to foreign countries.

Portman met with members of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce and leaders of local businesses like Fuyao Glass America to discuss federal tax reform. He said he received input from Dayton-area employers as he continues to work with his colleagues in the Senate to reform the tax code.

“Tax reform is about more jobs and better wages, and this is a sign hat we are making progress with our friends in the House and the Trump administration,” Portman said “Tax reform will give our economy a shot in the arm, and I’m committed to working with my colleagues to get this done to benefit Ohio and our country.”

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Portman said he wanted to get input from Dayton leaders as Congress reforms the tax code, which he hopes will happen this year. Chamber officials and business leaders raised concern over the United State’s competitiveness in several business sectors — explaining they wanted the reformed tax code to promote business here instead of pushing jobs to foreign countries.

“That means not having the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world, which is what we now,” Portman said. “We heard from manufacturers, we heard from the real estate industry, we heard from the financial services industry, we certainly heard from accountants and tax lawyers who represent small businesses. We heard from small businesses. We heard from people who were concerned about some very specific issues like the home mortgage interest reduction and then some broader issues like how to make manufacturing competitive.”

A key Democrat said Republicans should abandon their plans to rewrite the tax code on a partisan basis and instead use their power to confront the president.

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“Instead of teaming up with Trump to obtain more costly tax breaks for the super rich, they need to lay out a plan to contain Trump,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means tax subcommittee. “Only hours after he included among his ‘very fine people’ those who march in torch-lit processions shouting racist and anti-Jewish slurs and carrying Nazi flags, this is certainly not a time for more ‘business as usual.’ ”

Chris Kershner of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce said the leaders had a “candid, honest” conversation with Portman about the aspects of the tax code that continues to impact manufacturing, development and business opportunities in the Miami Valley.

“There was a lot of input on the federal tax policies that are impacting our businesses and business leaders. Federal tax reform is needed to stimulate the economy of the Dayton area,” he said. “We appreciated (Portman’s) willingness to have this conversation.

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Meanwhile in Washington, D.C. Rep. Kevin Brady, the Texas Republican who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, said tax writers in the White House, Senate and House remain on schedule to produce a plan that can be voted on in 2017.

“It is an ambitious schedule. We recognize that,” he said.

While Brady reiterated that the goal is a permanent tax rewrite because it would stimulate the most robust growth for the longest period of time, he didn’t rule out a temporary tax cut. “We’re going to deliver tax cuts and tax reform in some form,” he said. He said he has reached out to congressional Democrats about tax policy, but he rejected their call to abandon any tax cuts for the top 1 percent of earners, saying the planned tax overhaul is “all about growth.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office sent an email Wednesday saying if lawmakers are serious about growing the economy, then tax cuts should be permanent.

Brady also said he didn’t want to wait to require companies to bring back earnings that they have stockpiled offshore and was looking at the repatriation proposal outlined in the 2014 tax plan from former House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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