U.S. tax reform unlikely to happen in short term: former official

NEW YORK, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- The odds of significant U.S. tax reform, or even tax cuts, have declined drastically in the past month, a former U.S. government official said on Tuesday.

Peter Orszag, former director of the Office of Management and Budget in the White House, spoke at a forum by the Council on Foreign Relations here that tax reform is "the kind of thing that's always attractive, and then when you get into the details, all of a sudden it gets a lot harder."

In late August, U.S. President Donald Trump pushed Congress to pass a comprehensive measure to overhaul the tax code, but didn't offer specific plans, which raised doubts about whether the administration could make progress in tax reform within this year.

Orszag argued that the U.S. lawmakers have more urgent issues to tackle right now than tax reform, namely the contentious DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program and debt ceiling.

The Trump administration's latest move to rescind the DACA program, which shields young immigrants brought into the United States illegally as children from deportation, has met strong protest from business leaders.

"It is interesting to me that the CEO of Microsoft has come out and said while we favor tax changes, that is a nice-to-have, and the DACA legislation is a must-have. So we need to put DACA in front of tax-corporate tax changes, further pushing the corporate tax thing down the pike," said Orszag, who is also a vice chairman of investment banking at Lazard, a financial advisory and asset management firm.

Meanwhile, Trump reached a deal with the Democratic leaders last Wednesday to raise the federal government's debt limit and fund the government through Dec. 15.

Orszag noted that "it is implausible to me that you're going to get the tax stuff done before the debt limit and spending bills and whatever comes back into play in December."

He added that there is small chance that there will be some modest reduction in corporate rates next spring.

"But that's a very skinny package relative to what was initially expected," he said.

[ Editor: meng ]


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