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Incoming U.S. House tax chief Ryan: tax reform is 1-3 year project

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Representative Paul Ryan, the leading Republican voice on fiscal policy and soon to be Congress’s top tax writer, said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday that overhauling the tax code is an important, but long-term project.

“That’s somewhere between one and three years from getting done,” said Ryan, who was just selected to head the powerful tax-writing Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives starting in January.

On tax reform, Ryan said, “The sooner the better in my mind, but we’ll see what kind of atmosphere we have to work with … It’s critical to get faster economic growth, a healthy economy, and more jobs. It has to happen.”

Ryan also said Democratic President Barack Obama’s plan to relax U.S. immigration policy is a “partisan bomb” that would damage hopes of working with Congress on other issues. He said Obama’s plan to grant relief from deportation to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants “would do great damage in his relations with Congress.”

Ryan said: “If he chooses to do this, we will see this as a move for him to play 2016 politics, to try and help his party versus our party, instead of working and coming to common ground with Republicans in 2015 to get things done, which is what I think the voters told us they want in this very last election.”

Ryan declined to say specifically what Republicans should do to stop Obama from implementing the order, but he added, “We’re not going to have a shutdown” of federal agencies.

The 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate also said he will wait until next year to decide on a run for president.

“One thing at a time. Right now I’m focused on this. That’s something I’ve long reserved for 2015,” Ryan said. “You’ll know when I know. I’ll let you know.”

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