Ryan: We want to do tax reform ‘better’ than health care

House Speaker Paul Ryan said his party has already taken a lesson from the healthcare fight and applied it to another top goal: Tax reform.

Despite campaigning for more than seven years on a promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, Republicans have struggled within their own caucus to find consensus on how exactly their own healthcare proposal should take shape. Early Friday morning, a so-called “skinny repeal” bill was narrowly voted down in the Senate, a setback that leaves the GOP with no obvious path forward that does not include negotiations with Democrats.

Ryan, in an interview with Fox Business network that was taped before the dramatic Friday vote in the Senate, said the infighting on healthcare has prompted Republicans to hold copious meetings on planned tax reform proposals so that the entire party is on the same page.

“We looked at healthcare and said let’s make sure that do tax reform better and differently, so we have had exhausting meetings — not exhausting, we’ve exhausted these points between all three branches, all three decision makers: Senate, House, White House,” Ryan told Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo. “We’ve had meeting after meeting after meeting to make sure we see it the same way and on common ground.”

The speaker said his party has taken its lead on tax reform from the White House, which outlined in broad strokes a tax reform proposal earlier this year but has yet to further clarify its plan. Republicans had hoped to repeal and replace Obamacare first, Ryan explained, because doing so would remove the law’s related taxes and allow the GOP to lower tax rates even more dramatically, but tax reform without undoing Obamacare remains possible, he said.

As part of the ongoing GOP-wide negotiations about tax reform, Ryan said the House abandoned its controversial proposal to institute a Border Adjustment Tax, essentially a tax on imports, in the spirit of compromise.

“That is why the House, who offered the Border Adjustment Tax, realized that that was preventing us from getting consensus to get to tax reform,” the speaker said. “Once we realized there is a perfectly viable way to tax reform without having to do that, we agreed to go that direction in the sake of consensus, so we can get this done."

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