Congress is on track to approve Republican tax reform legislation by the end of this year, House Speaker Paul Ryan told a room full of Wisconsin business leaders Monday. 

Ryan said he is "bullish" on that timeline despite failure in the Senate to approve legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act because there is "far more agreement" on the tax legislation among House and Senate Republicans and President Donald Trump. 

Ryan said he expects some Democrats to vote for the tax proposal in the Senate, adding that it makes sense in particular for senators from states like Wisconsin, North Dakota and Indiana to vote in favor of the bill. 

The Republican tax plan would reduce the number of brackets for individuals, lower rates for businesses, adjust a variety of deductions and credits and eliminate the estate and alternative minimum taxes. 

With tax reform, Ryan argued, will come economic growth. 

"This is about giving middle class families a tax cut, this is about giving a break to middle class families, and it’s about getting tax rates on businesses down,' Ryan said. 

Ryan dismissed criticism from groups arguing the plan will primarily benefit the wealthy or that it will add to the national debt.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, led by Republican former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former Defense Secretary and CIA director Leon Panetta and Democratic former Rep. Tim Penny of Minnesota, said the legislation could amount to about $2.2 trillion in net tax cuts over the next decade.

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"That’s a well known left-wing think tank that is known for giving those kinds of estimates," Ryan said, arguing that the resulting economic growth will help offset the cuts.

Asked about an analysis from the left-leaning Wisconsin Budget Project that shows the top 1 percent of Wisconsin earners would receive 61 percent of the total value of the tax cut, Ryan said he hadn't seen the study.

"I think the class warfare rhetoric especially rings hollow these days when we’re talking about making sense to keep businesses in Wisconsin, businesses in America and lowering the tax rates on American businesses so that it pays to stay in America, so that it pays to stay building things in America," Ryan said.

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.