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Paul Ryan opens door to delayed corporate tax rate cut

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U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday left the door open to a possible delay in implementing lower tax rates for corporations, following a media report that his fellow Republicans in the Senate are exploring the option.

Republicans in both chambers of Congress are working on separate plans to give the U.S. tax code its biggest overhaul since the 1980s. President Donald Trump and House Republicans have proposed slashing the tax rate that companies pay from 35 percent to 20 percent.

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But the Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the Senate’s version could slap a one-year delay on the corporate tax cut to make it easier to comply with the chamber’s rules that aim to limit any legislation’s impact on the U.S. deficit.

Wall Street was trading largely flat on Wednesday as bank stocks came under pressure from a near-flat Treasury yield curve and investors remained focused on the tax bill debate in Congress.

Asked if House Republicans would consider a delay in implementing a lower corporate rate, Ryan told Fox News Radio on Wednesday:

“So what economists tell us … is that you still get very fast economic growth and you actually are encouraging companies to spend on factories and plants and equipment and hiring people sooner with the phase-in.”

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Ryan, the highest ranking Republican on Capitol Hill, said both chambers of Congress would work on their own tax cut package and iron out the differences in a conference committee.

“The Senate is still focused on getting an economic growth plan and the House does as well. So at the end of the day, this is all to the good, it’s just a debate about how good it gets,” he said.

The tax overhaul is a priority for Trump, who says it will stimulate economic growth and create jobs. Republicans have yet to score a major legislative accomplishment since he took office in January, even though they control Congress as well as the White House.

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Democrats have blasted the tax proposals as a give-away to corporations and the rich.

Senate Republicans are still on track to release on Thursday their version of a bill to overhaul the nation’s tax code, a congressional source told Reuters. Axios had reported on Wednesday that the bill would be delayed.

Financial markets are nervous about the potential outcome of lawmakers’ plans to cut corporate taxes.

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“Investors realize that the House tax plan is a preliminary one and don’t really expect it to pass. We haven’t even seen what the Senate version of the bill looks like,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial.

“I think the market has already processed a lot of good news including strong earnings, and now some of the worries are taking over,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu, Susan Cornwell, Katanga Johnson and Amanda Becker; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Paul Simao)

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‘Ignorance at the highest level’: Intel Democrat slams Trump for bizarre letter to Turkish president

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On Wednesday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, ripped President Donald Trump for his juvenile letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an.

"The White House just released the text of the less letter that the president sent to Erdo?an of Turkey, among other things, saying in the aftermath of the earlier decision by the U.S. to pull out troops, saying 'Don't be a tough guy, don't be a fool,'" said anchor Wolf Blitzer. "What is your reaction to that?"

"You know, I'll be honest, I saw this online first. I got a copy of the letter," said Quigley. "I actually thought it was a prank, a joke. It couldn't possibly come from the Oval Office. It sounded all of the world like the president of the United States, in some sort of momentary lapse, just dictated angrily whatever was on the top of his head. These are extraordinarily serious issues. And an extraordinarily dangerous part of the world."

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Here are the two Trump claims that the Pentagon chief refused to vouch for

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The White House meeting Wednesday afternoon didn't go well for either party, according to their counterparts. Both sides are dishing on details, including a Democratic aide who said that there were two of President Donald Trump's claims that his own Pentagon chief wouldn't vouch for.

At the onset of the meeting, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) began by reading a quote from Gen. James Mattis, who briefly served in Trump's administration.

"But POTUS cut Schumer off," reported PBS News correspondent Lisa Desjardins. Trump then "said that Gen Mattis was: 'the world’s most overrated general. You know why? He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take 2 yrs. I captured them in 1 month."

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Former Clinton lawyer scolds Trump’s White House counsel on impeachment: ‘we never considered’ behaving this way

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On Tuesday, Lanny Breuer, a special counsel who worked for President Bill Clinton's White House, wrote an open letter in the Washington Post to President Donald Trump's White House Counsel Pat Cipollone — telling him that, while he understands an impeachment is a horrible thing for an administration to go through, Clinton and his lawyers would never have behaved the way Trump is now.

"In 1998, we felt under siege," wrote Breuer. "We argued at the time, as you do in your letter, that Congress should provide additional procedural protections to the president ... For example, instead of conducting its own investigation, the committee relied almost exclusively on [independent counsel Ken] Starr’s report, which had serious flaws. The House took only three months to adopt articles of impeachment, and we had only two days to present our witnesses. The president’s personal lawyer, David Kendall, had only 30 minutes to question Starr. We felt this was deeply unfair and a derogation of the House’s constitutional duty to investigate thoroughly whether impeachment was warranted."

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