- Gary Cohn says the administration would have "loved to go lower" than 20 percent on the corporate tax rate, but he insists it won't go higher.
- "The lower we go, we think the more attractive the United States becomes," Cohn tells CNBC.
- "We would have liked to start lower and given ourselves some negotiating room. We are at 20. Twenty is a bright-line test for us," he adds.
Top White House economic advisor Gary Cohn drew a line in the sand on corporate taxes Thursday, saying the Trump administration's 20 percent proposal is non-negotiable.
In a CNBC interview a day after the GOP presented its sweeping tax reform plan, Cohn said the administration would have "loved" to have gone lower than 20 percent. The current corporate tax rate is 35 percent.
"The lower we go, we think the more attractive the United States becomes," said Cohn, director of the National Economic Council.
"We would have liked to start lower and given ourselves some negotiating room. We are at 20. Twenty is a bright-line test for us. The president said it. He said it yesterday and he's been very clear about it," Cohn added in a "Squawk Box" interview. "We told [Congress] that if we start at 20, we're ending at 20, and there's no room to negotiate then."
Cohn was one of the "Big Six" Republicans who worked on the overhaul.
President Donald Trump said his tax plan was aimed at helping American workers, creating jobs and making the tax code simpler and fairer. Still, the plan was met with some skepticism about how it would all be paid for.
Cohn told CNBC the proposed tax cuts will be paid for entirely through economic growth and would not increase the budget deficit.
The tax plan also would collapse the current seven personal tax brackets to just three: 12, 25 and 35 percent and nearly doubles the standard deduction.
"We've given the tax writers both in the Senate and the House the ability to put in a fourth rate if they need it to make the process work," Cohn said. "At the end of the day this is about making the process work and growing the economy."