Hill Briefs: Advising Trump; New W&M Ranking Member

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By Laura Davison and Kaustuv Basu

Dec. 2 — An executive from IHS Markit Inc., the byproduct of a recent corporate inversion that reduced its tax rate, will sit on a panel to advise President-elect Donald Trump’s administration on business policy and strategy.

Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of the U.K.-based data analysis provider, will join Blackstone Group LP‘s Stephen Schwarzman, General Motors Co.’s Mary Barra and JPMorgan Chase & Co’s Jamie Dimon and others in a forum to offer strategy and policy suggestions to Trump after the inauguration. IHS, formerly a U.S. company, merged with U.K.-based Markit earlier this year. The deal was structured as a corporate inversion, but didn’t meet the ownership percentages to trigger Treasury Department penalties.

IHS Markit will have a 20 percent to 25 percent tax rate as a result of the transaction, the company said at the time of the merger, though analysts have said it could be much lower. IHS Markit declined to comment on why Yergin was selected. The Trump transition team didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“My administration is committed to drawing on private sector expertise and cutting the government red tape that is holding back our businesses from hiring, innovating, and expanding right here in America,” Trump said in a Dec. 2 statement.

Top Democrat

Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) will be the House Ways and Means Committee’s top Democrat as the Republican-led committee seeks to overhaul the tax code and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Neal’s selection is viewed favorably by some business groups and Republicans who see him as a reasonable deal-maker. He played a role in negotiating some of the permanent and long-term extensions of tax credits for businesses and individuals in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act last year.

He replaces Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.), 85, who said earlier this week he was stepping down as the top Democrat to let younger members lead.

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said in a statement congratulating Neal that he has an impressive understanding of the complex legislation that is considered by the committee. “We’ve got a busy year ahead of us and I look forward to working with him,” Brady said.

True Lies?

Third Way, a centrist think-tank, is pointing out that if Republicans really want to simplify the tax code, they should stop focusing on reducing the number of tax brackets for individuals and focus on the $1.4 trillion of tax expenditures such as credits and deductions.

The idea that reducing the number of tax brackets simplifies the tax code is a lie, the group said.

“A graduated income tax system with more income tax brackets ensures that taxpayers are paying the rate most appropriate for their level of income,” the group said in an online post. “In almost all incarnations of Republican tax reform plans, including Trump’s, the fewer the tax brackets there are in the code, the more regressive the tax code will be as a matter of design.”

The House Republican tax blueprint and President-elect Trump’s plan suggest three tax brackets set at 12 percent, 25 percent and 33 percent instead of the seven brackets currently in the code. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) has said the House plan includes eliminating carve-outs and credits.

To contact the reporters on this story: Laura Davison in Washington at ldavison@bna.com and Kaustuv Basu in Washington at kbasu@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Meg Shreve at mshreve@bna.com

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