MADISON – House Speaker Paul Ryan, speaking at a press availability in Madison on Monday, said President Donald Trump was correct to end the subsidies for insurance companies participating in the Obamacare markets.
“These subsidies were unconstitutional,” Ryan said. “One of the reasons I’m pleased with this decision, the president sided with Congress and the Constitution.”
Ryan reminded the media that his predecessor, former House Speaker John Boehner, began the legal process to end the subsidies because Congress had not appropriated the money. Federal district court judge Rosemary Collyer ruled in the House’s favor in May 2016, agreeing that the Obama administration’s payments were unconstitutional.
“This is a very important separation of powers case, which is the Congress decides whether the spending occurs or not,” Ryan said. “The Congress has Article I powers of the purse.”
Former President Barack Obama exceeded his powers under the Constitution by spending the money on the insurance subsidies, Ryan said. “And so what President Trump is acknowledging is that the Constitution stands. That Congress has to appropriate, and that’s why I’m pleased that he sided with the Constitution and Congress on this case,” Ryan said.
Ryan said the solution is not to restore the subsidies, but to repeal and replace Obamacare. “You replace it with a law that allows us to have choice and competition in health care,” Ryan said. “That allows states to set up competitive health care marketplaces so people can stretch their health care dollar further with lower premiums. And we set up things like risk pools and reinsurance mechanisms so that people with catastrophic illnesses can have a peace of mind of getting the kind of care they need without going bankrupt.”
The press availability was after Ryan spoke at the State of Wisconsin Business & Industry Luncheon hosted by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. At the luncheon, Ryan said Congress is “on track” for getting tax reform done this year. He said Congress needed to reform the tax code because of our “terrible” tax system.
Pointing out that nine out of ten Wisconsin businesses file their taxes as individuals, “Their top effective tax rate goes as high as 44.6 percent in this country,” Ryan said. “Corporations like Oshkosh or, you know, Johnson Wax, or Harley Davidson or Snap-On Tools, they’re taxed at 35 percent. That’s pretty high right there.”
“The rest of the world, that we compete with, they tax their businesses on average at 22.5 percent,” Ryan said. “Overseas, which for us is Lake Superior, the Canadians, they tax all their businesses at 15 percent.”
Ryan said that if we get our tax rates down so we’re globally competitive, companies will have an incentive to stay in America. “What we have right now is this dangerous, dangerous trend of companies, not just shipping jobs overseas, but themselves moving overseas,” Ryan said. “Not just companies that are successful that sell things overseas but they can’t bring their profits back so they’re trapped overseas. So they invest that trapped cash in factories overseas.”
“This is a serious problem that needs to be addressed and is going to be addressed in tax reform,” Ryan said.
Ryan said allowing companies to repatriate their overseas profits without penalizing them will lead to three percent economic growth, which he said we have not seen for a decade.
During the question and answer period with the audience, Ryan was asked about the biggest possible obstacle to tax reform. “Have you ever heard of the United States Senate before?” Ryan asked.
Ryan’s remarks on tax reform came on the same day as a new report from the Council of Economic Advisers said that Americans could see a wage increase of $4,000 annually with tax reform.
The speaker’s office also released a new video on Monday, “On a Mission for the Middle Class.”