The Jay Weber Show: Paul Ryan on Turkey Hunting, Preventing Lois Lerner 2.0, and Advancing Trade Agreements
JANESVILLE – Yesterday morning, Wisconsin’s First District Congressman and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan talked with Jay Weber of News/Talk 1130WISN about the importance of passing Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the need to reform the IRS. Excerpts of the interview follow.
Expanding American Access to Foreign Markets:
I introduced a bill that I negotiated for the last 3 months with the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Orin Hatch from Utah and Ron Wyden from Oregon, a Democrat and a Republican. Basically the deal is this: 95% of the world’s consumers, they don’t live in America. They live in other countries. So if we want to have more jobs, more sales, higher wages, we have to make and grow more things in America and sell them overseas. That means we need to open markets to our products. That is why we need trade agreements.
We’re currently negotiating TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership with 11 other countries. In order to get the best type of agreement, you need to have what’s called trade promotion authority, which says that we will consider an agreement in its entirety once it is agreed to in Congress so that our partners will give us the best possible agreement. Japan isn’t going to give us the best possible agreement if they think that Congress will rewrite the entire agreement so we have to give them this ability to know that we will consider their agreement up or down.
What we did this time that is different is we put Congress in the driver’s seat at the front of the process instead of the back. So Congress is putting in the guidelines that any new trade agreement must conform to for Congress to consider it. We want the public to know so these trade agreements must be made public for 60 days before we can even consider it so everybody knows what it actually in a trade agreement. If the administration does not conform to the new level of transparency, of accountability, if it doesn’t adhere by the guidelines put forth by Congress, then Congress can rescind the trade promotion authority for the agreement. It’s sort of a trust but verify with more transparency, more accountability. The goal here is to get better trade agreements for American products so we can make and sell things overseas.
Holding the IRS Accountable
We spent two years in an IRS investigation that is far from complete, I might add. But two years of an IRS investigation where we found without a shred of doubt, lots of evidence the IRS was targeting people based on their political views. We looked at the system, the culture and the law governing the IRS, and we had 7 different pieces of legislation — a taxpayer bill of rights if you will — governing how the IRS needed to conduct itself. Giving people the right is the basic tenant. The culture that dominated the IRS was that the IRS thought the taxpayers worked for them, but really it is the other way around. The IRS works for us as citizens, as taxpayers. We learned to reaffirm our rights as citizens and that is why we passed these seven bills guaranteeing people their rights before the IRS and making things like targeting people based on their political beliefs a criminal offense with the Internal Revenue Service. . . .
One of the things we noticed was the Internal Revenue Service in some instances leaked classified tax information to opponents of political organizations so they could harass and intimidate the donors to those political organizations. It’s just absolutely mystifying the kind of conduct they have. What we’re doing is giving the tax payers the rights back, putting the IRS back in its place and making sure if anything like this happens again it’s a criminal offense so there is no ambiguity whatsoever about it. The whole point of this is so we don’t have another Lois Lerner 2.0.
Fixing Our Tax Code
Well, that is my main goal to do comprehensive tax reform. The only way to really grow the economy, create more jobs and reduce the power of the IRS is to reduce their subjectivity, which has this crazy complicated tax code that gives the IRS so much power. The goal of tax reform isn’t simply to clean up the IRS and get it out of our lives. The goal of tax reform is to get crony capitalism out of our system. It is to get the special-interest provisions out of the tax code, reduce tax rates across the board, and dramatically simplify all the tax systems so that we can get a faster-growing economy.
The way it basically works today [is] you send your money to Washington. If you do what Washington approves, you will get some of your money back. I just disagree with the whole premise of that. I think people should keep more of their own money and let them do what they want with it. It is their own money after all.
We’re going to be looking at what an overhaul of the whole tax system look like. The problem is, in the next year and a half, we have Barack Obama as President and it will be very difficult to do what I could call “comprehensive” tax reform that I and many others like. . . .
Dramatically overhauling that to me is the best way to go. I think that is something that is very doable in a post-Obama presidency. So the question is: What can we do in the meantime?
We’re looking at what we can do to help American businesses be more competitive, to lower their tax rates, and make it easier so that businesses can take the money they have overseas back to America. There is two trillion dollars of capital parked overseas and it can’t come back basically because of our tax law. That is something we have to fix so we can get that money re-invested in America and make the American economy more competitive. So we’re looking at what interim steps can be done this summer, sort of the kind of tax reform I was just discussing.
Hunting Turkey in Wisconsin:
I planted trees in the backyard, did my honey-dos for my wife, went out and got my turkey because my turkey tag was this weekend, after working on negotiating trade-agreements legislation which is important for jobs and the economy. For me, I am doing exactly what I want to do. I have an important job that can make a huge difference on the weekdays and I am home on the weekends with my family turkey hunting, yard work, playing with my kids. That is what I want to be doing.