U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks wants tariffs on Chinese goods to pay for U.S. tax cuts

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks said he wants to see the details of any new tax proposal from Congress or the White House before he commits to supporting a plan, and so far, details have been scarce.

Brooks also told WHNT News 19 Friday that he would like to see tariffs placed on goods from China and the proceeds from those tariffs – basically import taxes – used to pay for tax cuts for lower- and middle-income Americans.

President Trump has called for an overhaul of the U.S. tax code and tax cuts for individuals and companies, but the White House plan was a broad outline.

Brooks, a longtime deficit hawk who often warns about the perils of the United States’ huge debt burden, said he wants to see the particulars in the tax proposals.

“Well there is no tax plan so far, as people understand the phrase, ‘tax plan,’ or me as a congressman,” Brooks said. “I’ve got to have a bill, a bill with details with actual numbers in it.”

Trump’s proposal has called for a cut in the number of tax brackets, but Brooks is also wary on that front.

“Just a little change in the numbers, whether it be a 20 percent tax rate or a 25 or a 30, that makes a lot of difference to a lot of citizens across America,” he said.

Brooks is a member of the fiscally conservative Freedom Caucus in the U.S. House. The group scuttled one of the Obamacare repeal efforts earlier this year and Brooks knows the White House is watching.

“I had a phone call this week with (Counselor to the President) Kellyanne Conway, where she’s trying to get my feel on the tax plan, and my response was, ‘Until we have an actual bill, I can’t say I’m for it or against it,” Brooks said.

Brooks said he would be in favor of imposing a tariff on Chinese goods. Trump was outspoken about China’s trade policy during the 2016 campaign, calling it unfair, and Brooks agrees.

“Well, I would like to see us impose a tariff on Chinese products because of the unfair playing field right now,” Brooks said.

China sells far more goods to the U.S. than the U.S. does to China. The trade deficit for 2016 was $347 billion, according to U.S. government figures. Brooks wants to use the proposed tariff funds to pay for tax cuts.

“Use that tariff on Chinese products as the pay-for, for tax cuts, most particularly for lower-income and middle-income American citizens,” Brooks said.

Any new taxes placed on Chinese goods would not be well received by China. China holds $1 trillion of U.S. debt in U.S. Treasury Securities and it’s seen as a vital player in any effort to rein in North Korea. But Brooks is hopeful a tariff measure will be imposed.

“I mentioned that to Kellyanne Conway, who works in the White House,” Brooks said. “Maybe the White House will carry that ball and advance it.”