Ryan Bucks Trump, Says Congress Will Not Raise Tariffs

Speaker’s comment breaks from president-elect’s promise to impose ‘border tax’

Speaker Paul Ryan said Congress will not raise tariffs, undermining President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to institute a “border tax” for companies that leave the U.S. but want to continue doing business here. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, in a break from President-elect Donald Trump, said Wednesday that Congress is not going to increase taxes on imports and exports through tariffs. 

“We’re not going to be raising tariffs,” Ryan said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.”

Trump has called for a “big border tax” on companies that leave the United States but continue to sell their goods here.

In a December 4 tweet, Trump referenced his plan for “a tax on our soon to be strong border of 35%” for companies that leaves the United States or builds a new factory or plant overseas. The president-elect’s team has reportedly been mulling a 5 percent to 10 percent tariff. 

Ryan said “the secret” to getting businesses to stay in the country is to level the playing field on taxes, lowering taxes for businesses, not increasing them. 

“The speaker is against tariffs,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.

“He strongly supports making our tax system border adjustable by exempting exports from tax and subjecting imports to tax,” she added, referring to a proposal in House Republicans’ tax overhaul blueprint that calls for moving to a “cash-flow based approach” to taxing businesses. 

Signaling another gap with the president-elect, Ryan called WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a “sycophant for Russia.”

Hewitt had asked Ryan for his personal opinion on Assange after the speaker declined to comment on Trump’s Wednesday morning tweet quoting Assange saying “a 14 year old could have hacked [John] Podesta,” who served as campaign chairman for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and that Russia did not leak the information.

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