U.S. Rep. French Hill Of Arkansas Talks Tax Reform, Trump

U.S. Rep. French Hill
Credit Talk Business & Politics

U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, wants to see a broader tax base as part of federal tax reform, and with few exceptions, he’s open to a review of many deductions to eliminate that could lower overall rates.

Appearing on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, Hill said he supports keeping deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions, but beyond that he’s open-minded to changes.

“If we want to lower the corporate rate to about 20%, which is in the proposal, and 25% on pass-through entrepreneurial business income and then, collapse the brackets to maybe three brackets and lower all the brackets across the system, then we do need to remove some of the deductions and credits and special deals throughout the tax code to make that possible,” Hill said.

He added that eliminating the alternative minimum tax and exemptions for state and local taxes may be possibilities, but held off saying any potential exemption removals are off limits.

“What I’m most interested in is: will the framework, when it finds it’s way all the way through the House and Senate process, lead to faster economic growth, increased investment in the economy and therefore, productivity gains? So, I don’t really want to pre-judge the mix or say one thing or the other thing is going to cause me to vote no on it. I want to see on balance how it works out for a typical family in Arkansas, how it works out for making America more competitive in the business tax arena,” Hill said.

Hill said there is still time in this calendar year to take up tax reform. He’s hoping for a bipartisan push through the committee process, but says if cooperation across the aisle isn’t there, he’s okay with using the budget reconciliation process to try a strictly GOP version of the eventual legislation.

“They’re looking for Democratic ideas and Democrats to embrace a pro-growth tax agenda. Nothing is precluded by that or through the work process in both chambers using budget reconciliation,” he said. “The budget reconciliation approach could be a fallback if you didn’t find that you had sufficient Democratic votes over in the Senate, for example, to move it under a regular order, non-budget reconciliation approach. I think we designed it this way so that we had that fallback capability.”

Earlier this year, Republicans failed three times to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in the Senate. A Republican party line vote in the House narrowly succeeded, but the Senate majority could not muster enough votes from its caucus of 52 members to pass legislation in the upper chamber.

Hill also commented on news stories that have aired this week highlighting increasing frustration between the White House, key staff members, Congressional leaders and the president. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the White House had become “an adult day care” and accused President Donald Trump of attempting to start World War III with his provocations on North Korea and Iran.

Hill said his experiences do not indicate White House disarray and he downplayed Corker’s comments.

“I take your point. I don’t agree with it based on the interactions I’ve had with the White House National Security team here before the Congress and in private meetings. So, I haven’t seen evidence of Senator Corker’s characterization, but he’s entitled to his own opinion,” said Hill, complimenting White House Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly and others. “I think that it would be good for the United States and for our foreign policy if the president and Senator Corker dropped the rhetoric a bit.”

After the TB&P interview was taped, Hill cast the only Arkansas House vote against disaster relief for Puerto Rico, which was devastated by recent hurricane activity. Hill said he didn’t believe the disaster relief package was “the right way or the compassionate way” to help.

“Continuing the trend of adding massive amounts onto our national debt and doing nothing to change programs that are in dire need of reforms hurts hardworking Americans both today and tomorrow who will have to pay for this unfunded package. Forgiving $16 billion of NFIP’s debt with no reforms is just business-as-usual for Washington. We once again are not taking seriously our national debt and putting it on the shoulders of future generations,” Hill said. “We must find better, creative solutions to help those in need that don’t come at a harmful cost to hardworking Americans. Emergency spending for natural disasters must be limited to emergency spending.”

You can watch Rep. Hill’s full interview below.