Mnuchin: Tax reform on the agenda, entitlement cuts are not

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s top priority for President Trump‘s first year in office is going to be tax reform, and he hopes to have a plan ready by August. In the meantime, those worried about austerity measures imposed on entitlements can rest easy, at least for now.

Mnuchin told Fox News that economic growth is Trump’s top concern and he thinks the tax reform plan, currently being worked out with the help of House and Senate lawmakers, will accomplish that. While he’s working at a quick pace, Mnuchin said that the plan likely won’t be ready until mid summer.

“We need to create a level playing field for U.S. companies to compete in the world, and they just haven’t had that opportunity,” Mnuchin said.

He said the goal of tax reform is to entice companies into bringing back to the U.S. “trillions of dollars” in money they have stashed overseas. He said that will bring more jobs and into the country and stimulate more economic activity.

While some in the president’s administration have signaled that serious reform is going to have to include changes to Medicare and Social Security, Mnuchin said that’s not a priority just yet.

“We are not touching those now, so don’t expect to see those as a part of this budget,” he said. “We are very focused on other aspects and those are very important to us, and that’s the president’s priority.”

One of the more difficult aspects of the tax reform plan is going to be figuring out exactly how to incorporate Trump’s call for punishing companies that move operations out of the country.

Mnuchin said there is no plan at this point to impose massive taxes on imports from other countries — something Trump has tossed around with regard to Mexico — in order to even trade deficits.

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He attempted to assure companies that when the plan is ready, it will be very simple and easy to understand even for automobile manufacturers who import parts of vehicles to assemble them in the U.S. and then ship them overseas.

“We’re not going to get into trade wars,” he said. “What we are going to do is: The president believes in free trade, but he believes in fair trade, and we’re going to renegotiate these deals so they’re good for the American public, they’re good for the American worker and they’re good for American companies.”

He added, “When we come out with the plan … I can assure you this will be simple, and companies will know how to incorporate it.”

This post originally appeared on Washington Examiner

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