The Republican Agenda

Paul Ryan to Visit Boeing to Talk Tax Reform

The House Speaker believes Republican plan to slash taxes for businesses will help spur growth. Governor Inslee and machinists union leadership have a different take.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan will tour the Boeing Co. plant in Everett on Thursday and chat with workers about his plan to slash the amount of federal taxes paid by the plane-builder and other businesses in order to spur economic growth.

Ryan’s visit is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. with a tour of various production lines. He will then hold a “town hall” with employees that will be streamed live online, according to information released by the speaker’s office.

Neither event is open to the public.

Washington Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse is slated to join Ryan in Everett. Newhouse, who lives in Sunnyside, serves on the House Appropriations Committee and House Rules Committee.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, whose district includes part of Snohomish County, did not get invited though she is on the House Ways and Means Committee that would act on any tax reform legislation.

The stop at Boeing is part of a two-day swing through the Pacific Northwest for Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican. On Wednesday, he plans to visit Intel Corp. in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Tax reform, a policy priority of the Republican-led Congress and Republican President Donald Trump, is a focus of both events. Slashing the federal tax rate paid by businesses is a key component of a House plan, with Ryan contending it will encourage companies to bring production — and jobs — back from overseas sites where it is now cheaper to operate.

“Speaker Ryan continues to take the case for historic tax reform directly to workers and manufacturers around the country,” Ryan spokesman Michael Ricci told The Hill. “He’ll be talking about how our plan means lower taxes, less hassle, and a more level playing field across the board.”

A statement issued by Boeing said the company is “supportive of permanent and transformative tax reform proposals that encourage companies to invest and locate quality jobs and manufacturing in the U.S. and that will raise the standard of living for all Americans and grow the U.S. economy.”

“The alignment between the House, the Senate and the White House is increasing momentum for congressional action on a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enact permanent and meaningful tax reform that would help our company and our workforce,” the statement read.

In Washington, Boeing already gets a hefty break on its state tax bill, and it is a reason the aerospace giant decided to build the 787 Dreamliner and the 777X in Everett.

State lawmakers agreed in 2003 to levy a lower tax rate on aerospace businesses. That tax break, which runs through 2040, enabled Boeing to save $262 million on its tax bill in 2016 and $305 million in 2015.

Even with a tax break, the company is shedding jobs. It shaved 6,344 jobs in 2016 and is down roughly 4,000 in 2017. Democratic lawmakers and aerospace workers have tried, without success, to require that Boeing sustain a minimum number of jobs in the state if it wants to keep paying the lower rate.

Jon Holden, president of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 751, said the union supports tax incentives to secure jobs.

“Our concern is that our state’s current tax incentive package has not done that,” he said. “We believe any new tax scheme should not just support business, but also benefit the communities, taxpayers and the workers rather than simply boost corporate America’s profit margin and create bigger bonuses for the CEOs.”

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee is not planning to attend the event. He issued a statement Monday welcoming Ryan to “America’s No. 1 state for business” and chiding the GOP-led Congress and the president for their policy choices.

“Our prosperity is built on investments in our people and our communities,” he said, adding, “as well as our state’s proud history of being an inclusive and welcoming community for immigrants and refugees.

“Meanwhile, this Administration and this Congress have proposed massive tax cuts for the wealthy that they pay for with massive health care cuts that hurt millions of American workers,” he wrote. “They have supported efforts to shut talented immigrants out of our country.

“I hope the speaker sees for himself how Washington has been so successful in promoting progressive policies that help our working families, while also building a strong economy that attracts world-class companies and jobs,” he said.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

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