New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, likely to be majority leader next year if Democrats take back the Senate, told CNBC Tuesday that one of his top two 2017 priorities would be an enormous corporate tax cut.
Speaking of himself in the third person, Schumer said that “we’ve got to get things done. … The two things that come, that pop to mind — because Schumer, Clinton, and Ryan have all said they support these — are immigration and some kind of international tax reform tied to a large infrastructure program.”
American multinational corporations are now holding a staggering $2.5 trillion in profits overseas, refusing to bring the money back at the current tax rates until they get a special deal.
Revenue-starved Democratic leaders have broadly hinted they are prepared to cave, either for a “holiday” period or permanently.
In an exchange with CNBC’s John Harwood, Schumer confirmed that the latter is in fact in the works. When Harwood asked Schumer if “it would be a permanent lower rate, not a holiday rate,” Schumer replied, “Yes, you can’t do a one-shot deal.”
Schumer said he envisions “international tax reform” as providing funding for an infrastructure bank.
Hillary Clinton has not publicly supported such a plan. However, during a private October 13, 2014, speech to the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, Clinton told the audience that “A number of business leaders have been talking to my husband and me about an idea that would allow the repatriation of the couple trillion dollars that are out there. And you would get a lower rate — a really low rate — if you were willing to invest a percentage in an infrastructure bank.”
For his part, Schumer has long been negotiating with Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman to lay the groundwork for such a corporate-friendly deal.
While Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren has called such a scheme “a giant wet kiss for the tax dodgers,” Schumer told CNBC that he’d have no trouble getting her on board. “She’s going to surprise everybody,” Schumer said. “She’s going to be both a progressive and a constructive force.”