MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
This week, the Republican bill to overhaul the tax code is going to get some scrutiny from the House Ways and Means Committee. The legislation released last week calls for cuts in corporate and individual tax rates. It is designed to make the process of filing your return a lot simpler, but it is drawing sharp criticism from deficit hawks like the conservative Tax Foundation, which estimates it will add a trillion dollars to the deficit over the next decade. And there are also questions about how cuts to mortgage and state tax deductions will hit the middle class. For more, we're joined by Republican congressman Buddy Carter of Georgia. Congressman Carter, good morning.
BUDDY CARTER: Good morning.
KELLY: Why is a tax plan that could add a trillion dollars to the deficit over the next 10 years a good idea?
CARTER: Well, let me tell you why it's a good idea. One of the primary reasons that I went to Washington, D.C., was to do something about our national debt. As a father, as a grandfather, that is very important to me. Right now, we have $20 trillion in our debt, and it is going up. And I've always said we've got to do three things. First of all, we've got to cut spending, we've got to have entitlement reform, and we've got to grow our way out of it. And perhaps the most important part of that is to grow our way out of it. This will stimulate our economy. This tax reform will stimulate our economy and help us to get out of the 1 and 1.5 percent growth rate that we're in now and get more up there in the 3 and 4 and perhaps even 5 percent growth rate. If we can do that and we can control our spending and have some entitlement reform, I assure you we can have - we can do a big dent in our national debt.
KELLY: Well, are you persuaded that the growth that is factored into this tax bill, that those numbers are realistic so that a deficit that's already at a record high won't just balloon further to this trillion-dollar number we just cited?
CARTER: I am convinced, again, that if we can control our spending and have entitlement reform and have good growth that we can do this and that it won't increase our debt. Instead, it will decrease our debt. It will get our economy going again. We've got to be disciplined. We've got to do our part of making sure we hold down spending. And I'm confident if we keep a Republican majority in control of Congress that we will do that.
KELLY: Let me ask about another objection that's being raised. This is the issue of deductions for state and local taxes. We had one of your fellow Republicans, Lee Zeldin of New York, on the program last week. He's saying he's not going to vote for this bill as it's currently written because this issue of cutting the deductions for local taxes is a big deal in states like his, in states like New Jersey and California. How will you win Republicans like him over to voting for this bill?
CARTER: Well, first of all, leadership has already recognized that this is a concern, and they have compromised on this, and they've put a deduction back in there for up to $10,000 of state and local property taxes. That's going to help win over some of those members in those areas. We understand it is a concern for them, but at the same time, you know, how fair is it with, you know, low property tax this year and in the state of Georgia and then in New York and New Jersey and California for them to have such high property taxes and them to get a deduction for that? I mean, you know, the one thing that we want to do with this plan is to make it fair. We really want to make it simple and fair. That's what we're trying to do with tax reform.
KELLY: Congressman, in the seconds we have left, how much horse trading are we going to see? I know the House is aiming to vote on this before Thanksgiving. I just checked my calendar. You got 17 days.
CARTER: We do. We do. And there will be. Ways and Means is going to mark this up this week. I suspect there will be changes to it. There always is, and leadership understands and all of us understand within the conference that we've got to get this done. And I am confident we will get it done.
KELLY: That is Georgia Republican Buddy Carter. Congressman, thanks so much for your time this morning.
CARTER: Thank you.
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