Orrin Hatch Says He Can Accept Temporary Tax Cuts That Raise Deficit

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From left, Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the president of Egypt, and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader from Kentucky, in Washington last month. Credit Al Drago/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Senator Orrin G. Hatch, the Republican chairman of the finance committee, said on Tuesday that he was prepared to support temporary tax cuts that add to the deficit if they stimulated the economy.

Republicans in Congress have generally been against short-term tax cuts, arguing that now is the party’s opportunity to bring sweeping and enduring changes to the tax code. However, a lack of support from Democrats and President Trump’s desire to quickly score a legislative win are making some lawmakers increasingly open to passing tax cuts if they stimulate the economy.

“I’m open to getting this country moving,” Mr. Hatch said. “I’m not so sure we have to go that route, but if we do, I can live with it.”

The comments came as Republican congressional leaders were preparing to huddle with President Trump’s economic team ahead of the administration’s rollout of its tax plan on Wednesday. Mr. Trump has told his staff that he wants to slash the corporate tax rate to 15 percent from 35 percent even if it increased the federal budget deficit.

Mr. Hatch, of Utah, said that he was not sure how the Congressional Budget Office would analyze the corporate tax plan that Mr. Trump is expected to propose. Republicans are planning to rely on “dynamic scoring” that accounts for economic growth created by the tax cuts to show that they would not increase the deficit.

“Whether 15 percent is the right figure or not, that’s something to be determined,” Mr. Hatch added.

Mr. Hatch had expressed skepticism on Monday about such a low corporate tax rate because, under the Senate’s reconciliation rules, changes to the tax code that reduce tax revenue expire after 10 years. Republicans are looking to use this maneuver to pass legislation with a simple majority that does not need to rely on votes from Democrats.

Democrats remain vehemently opposed to any tax legislation that offers big tax cuts for the rich. The idea of slashing the corporate tax rate to 15 percent appeared to be a nonstarter with Democrats, who have been critical of Republicans for shutting them out of discussions about tax reform.

“With respect to taxes, getting both sides together is the winning way,” said Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the ranking Democrat on the finance committee.

Mr. Wyden said that Mr. Trump should heed the lessons from the failed effort of Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act without input from Democrats. He also warned that using reconciliation to approve tax cuts would not fulfill the president’s promise to make the economy more competitive.

“The track record shows it’s not sustainable,” he said.

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