Ways and Means chairman fights for border tax despite mixed White House signals

Rep. Brady: At the end of the day we'll have border adjustment in tax reform plan
Rep. Brady: At the end of the day we'll have border adjustment in tax reform plan

The top tax-writing lawmaker in the House put on the hard sell Wednesday.

Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady on CNBC stood by the GOP's border tax on imports, which has been a lightning rod in the debate over how to reform U.S. corporate taxes.

"This will be in it. It will be designed and transitioned in a good way," Brady predicted on "Squawk Box" — a day after President Donald Trump, in his address to Congress, called for leveling the international playing field for American companies that find their exports heavily taxed by other countries.

Trump said: "Currently when we ship products out of America, many other countries make us pay very high tariffs and taxes. But when foreign companies ship their products into America, we charge them almost nothing."

The White House has been noncommittal on the border tax proposal, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was quick to say the president's comments were not meant as an endorsement.

But Brady argued the playing field can't be level with just a reduction in the federal corporate tax rate, which at 35 percent is among the highest around the world.

"It's like super-charging an old clunker of a car," he argued. "It can't compete and it can't drive along with the competitors we see today."

"We've got to think fresh," said the Texas Republican who's leading the House effort to overhaul taxes under the banner "A Better Way Forward on Tax Reform" along with Speaker Paul Ryan.