Tax Reform Faces Long Odds Even With Dave Camp at the Helm

A key player won’t be distracted by a Senate race, but that isn’t enough in itself to change the odds.

In this photo taken July 8, 2013, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., left, and the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., talk about tax reform to 3M employees at the 3M Innovation Center in Maplewood, Minn. Two of the most powerful members of Congress, Baucus, a Democrat, and Camp, a Republican, are touring the country to rally support for their effort to overhaul the nationís tax laws. They've developed a close friendship as they work to attract other lawmakers to their cause while helping Democrats and Republicans get to know each other a bit better. Their secret weapon: burgers and beer.
National Journal
Nancy Cook
Aug. 17, 2013, 2 a.m.

Tax re­form re­mains a long shot this fall — just as it al­ways was be­fore, dur­ing, and after Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Dave Camp flir­ted with a run for a U.S. Sen­ate seat.

The House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee chair­man an­nounced Fri­day that he would not run for the Michigan Sen­ate seat, and im­me­di­ately, the ques­tion arose: What, if any­thing, does it mean for tax re­form this fall if Camp does not have to de­vote ma­jor time to cam­paign­ing?

Not as much as you might think. Tax re­form faced many, many hurdles re­gard­less of the dir­ec­tion of Camp’s fu­ture polit­ic­al ca­reer. Here are a few to think on:

Rev­en­ue: Neither party can agree on how much money any over­haul of the tax sys­tem should raise. Demo­crats want to raise ad­di­tion­al rev­en­ue to either fund stim­u­lus-like pro­grams or to pay down the de­fi­cit. Re­pub­lic­ans think tax re­form should not raise any more money than the code cur­rently does. For­get find­ing a com­prom­ise on a lower cor­por­ate tax rate between the two parties. This is a ma­jor philo­soph­ic­al stick­ing point and one of the biggest im­ped­i­ments.

Little sup­port from lead­er­ship: Re­pub­lic­an House Speak­er John Boehner has said that he has re­served a bill spe­cific­ally for tax re­form; that’s a nice sym­bol­ic ges­ture to sup­port his old friend Camp. But Boehner is not ex­actly out there selling any spe­cif­ic tax plan to elim­in­ate tax de­duc­tions or clean up the code.

The Sen­ate lead­er­ship ex­presses even less en­thu­si­asm. Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id re­fused to par­ti­cip­ate in the Sen­ate’s top tax writers’ ex­er­cise to ex­am­ine the tax code. (The Sen­ate Fin­ance Com­mit­tee lead­ers had asked law­makers to de­fend their fa­vor­ite tax breaks in private let­ters, but Re­id re­fused to play along and pub­licly dissed the pro­cess to re­port­ers). A num­ber of top Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans sim­il­arly urged their mem­bers to not even wade in­to tax re­form un­til the rev­en­ue ques­tion (see above) was settled.

House Demo­crats: Camp has prom­ised to un­veil a tax re­form bill with­in the Ways and Means Com­mit­tee this fall, but it will be hard to make that ap­pear broadly pal­at­able un­less some House Demo­crats on the com­mit­tee sup­port it. Tax lob­by­ists in town are closely watch­ing this pro­cess of court­ing House Demo­crats. So far, none have pub­licly signaled their sup­port for a Camp bill. If they don’t, this eas­ily could look like a par­tis­an Re­pub­lic­an ex­er­cise — an­oth­er pos­sible killer of tax re­form.

Risk to the GOP: And, if few or no House Demo­crats sup­port Camp’s tax re­form draft le­gis­la­tion, then the Re­pub­lic­ans run a ma­jor polit­ic­al risk. If they pro­pose, for in­stance, cut­ting the cor­por­ate tax rate and pay­ing for it by slash­ing some tax de­duc­tions near and dear to Amer­ic­ans, then they’ll look like friends to ma­jor cor­por­a­tions and wealthy people. That play­book did not work well for Mitt Rom­ney, when the Demo­crats used it against him in last year’s pres­id­en­tial cam­paign.

Add all of this up and it re­in­forces the polit­ic­al dif­fi­culty of passing a ma­jor tax-re­form pack­age in the next year or two, even with all the time and at­ten­tion Camp can now af­ford to lav­ish on the pro­ject.

What We're Following See More »
BACKING OUT ON BERNIE
Trump Won’t Debate Sanders After All
21 hours ago
THE LATEST

Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

AKNOWLEDGING THE INEVITABLE
UAW: Time to Unite Behind Hillary
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.

Source:
AP KEEPING COUNT
Trump Clinches Enough Delegates for the Nomination
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."

Source:
TRUMP FLOATED IDEA ON JIMMY KIMMEL’S SHOW
Trump/Sanders Debate Before California Primary?
2 days ago
THE LATEST
CAMPAIGNS INJECTED NEW AD MONEY
California: It’s Not Over Yet
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.

Source:
×