Ryan on Pope Francis and Tax Reform
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Wisconsin’s First District Congressman Paul Ryan spoke with WLIP’s Bill Lawrence about the upcoming address to Congress by Pope Francis, and about the bills marked up last week by the House Ways and Means Committee that would provide certainty to the tax code. Excerpts of Ryan’s interview with WLIP follow.
On Pope Francis’s joint meeting of Congress:
“As a practicing Catholic it’s something that’s very exciting. [It’s something] I’ve never experienced before. We did have the Pope come to D.C. before, but he gave Mass in the stadium that the Nationals play in, ended up staying at the White House, and never spoke to Congress. I am looking forward to the joint meeting of Congress on Thursday morning.”
“Everybody is trying to figure out 'what is he going to talk about?' I think he is going to talk about lots of things, and from my discussion with a few cardinals, I think it’s going to be more of a pastoral speech. I’m sure he’s going to talk about issues, but I think it is going to go much farther than a list of issues; I think he will talk about healing, prayer, his faith, and helping the poor. That’s the kind of speech I’m hoping to hear, and I think that’s what we are going to hear.”
On tax reform and tax extenders:
“A tax extender means there are all these provisions in the tax code that are temporary and are set to expire. There are lots of tax credits that get extended every single year, like a farmer’s ability to write off a purchase of a tractor or something like that.”
“We passed bills to make [some] tax extenders permanent last week—for instance, a teacher can spend money out of pocket to buy things for their classroom. We’ve had this tax break where a teacher can deduct $250 worth of out-of-pocket expenses on classroom supplies off their taxes, if they want to. That expired at the end of the year—so there are provisions like this that we think that are good, that ought to be extended and made permanent in lieu of holistic tax reform. You know, charitable giving, those kinds of things."
“I am saying ‘Let’s just keep these things permanent,’ so that we give people certainty so that they can plan; you’re trying to encourage behavior with these tax credits.”
“That’s what tax reform is all about. We are making provisions of the code permanent that we believe encourage positive behavior, and then we are going to try and let things expire that should go away to make the code much more simplified. But at the end of the day, we basically need to scrap this income tax code and start over.”