US: Republican Camp Raises Prospect Of Missing Tax-Plan Date
14 November 2013
Posted by: Authors: Richard Rubin & Roxana Tiron
Authors: Richard Rubin & Roxana Tiron (Bloomberg)
Representative Dave Camp, the top
Republican tax writer in Congress, heads into a meeting with
party leaders today with almost three years of his work on tax
policy hanging in the balance.
Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, wants
to push legislation through his panel to lower individual and
corporate tax rates and curtail tax breaks in the most
significant change to the Internal Revenue Code since 1986.
The details of his plan, which Camp started developing when
he became the panel chairman in 2011, are "very close” to
being done, said Representative Charles Boustany, a Louisiana
Republican on the committee.
Politics are another matter. Republicans are wary of
siphoning attention from the flawed start of President Barack Obama’s 2010 health-care law and toward a bill that would impose
higher burdens on some taxpayers while benefiting others.
"All of those issues of timing will be discussed with the
chairman and leadership,” Representative Kevin Brady of Texas,
a senior Ways and Means panel member, told reporters yesterday
at the Capitol after a meeting of fellow committee Republicans.
Camp, 60, said for the first time yesterday that he may not
meet his self-imposed deadline of releasing a bill and moving it
through the committee this year.
The 16-day partial government shutdown last month set back
the committee’s work by three weeks, he said. House members are
scheduled to be in session for 14 more days this year, counting
today, before they plan to leave Washington on Dec. 13. ‘Move Forward’
"I very much have wanted to stick to that, certainly to
have the bill ready and to be able to move forward this year if
we can,” Camp said. "Things do change around here and I think
you have to look at the timing and circumstances you’re in.”
Camp will meet today with the House’s top Republican
leaders, including Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Majority Leader
Eric Cantor of Virginia and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of
The leaders can’t stop Camp from releasing a bill. They
may, though, urge him to wait, say they would withhold support
if he moves ahead or ask other party members to tell Camp that
they oppose his plan.
Camp, of Michigan, said he has thought about whether the
Ways and Means Committee could do something short of moving a
complete bill this year to make some progress. He said that idea
isn’t being actively considered. Party Goal
The tax bill is a party priority that would advance a goal
Republicans have embraced in their budget each year since
winning the House majority in the 2010 elections. What they
haven’t done is add all of the details, showing which taxpayers
would win and who would lose.
A major tax bill would affect multiple industries and
markets, including states that issue tax-exempt municipal bonds,
companies such as retailer Macy’s Inc. (M) that advocate lower
corporate tax rates, and individuals who receive tax-free health
insurance from their employers.
Republican leaders are concerned about the lack of a path
to a tax law before this Congress concludes at the end of 2014,
given their opposition to raising taxes and Democrats’
insistence that major tax-code changes be accompanied by revenue
increases, said three Republican aides who spoke on condition of
anonymity to discuss party strategy.
Camp has said that his plan wouldn’t raise or lower federal
revenue and that it wouldn’t shift the tax burden from higher-income households to others. ‘Revenue Question’
"The revenue question hasn’t gone away,” said
Representative Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat and senior
Ways and Means member.
Still, Neal said, there are plausible paths for Congress to
succeed before the end of 2014.
"Nobody likes the current system,” he said. "The
argument’s over what the new one should look like.”
Revenue has become part of lawmakers’ debate over tax-and-spending issues with the U.S. budget deficit in mind. The U.S.
Treasury Department yesterday released a report saying the
budget deficit narrowed last month, even as the federal
government was closed down for part of it. Spending exceeded
receipts by $91.6 billion last month, compared with a $120
billion shortfall in October 2012.
Stronger hiring has helped reduce the country’s budget
deficit as a share of gross domestic product by more than half
in the past four years, narrowing it from a record $1.42
trillion in 2009. Deficit Forecast
The Treasury last month said the shortfall in the 12 months
ending Sept. 30 was 4.1 percent of GDP, and the Congressional
Budget Office has projected it will decline to 3.3 percent of
the economy this fiscal year and 2.1 percent in 2015.
On the tax front, Camp has held details of his plan
closely, particularly those on politically charged issues such
as the mortgage interest deduction, capital gains rates and the
tax exemption for credit unions.
He has been holding a series of closed-door meetings with
his committee’s Republican members over the past few months as
they try to draft a proposal. The goal is to lower the top
individual rate to 25 percent from 39.6 percent and the top
corporate rate to 25 percent from 35 percent.
Camp has released discussion drafts of changes to the
taxation of international income, derivatives and small
Camp has been working with Senate Finance Committee
Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat. They have a joint
Twitter handle on their goal of revising the tax code and went
on a multi-city tour earlier this year.
Baucus will hold a closed-door meeting today with committee
members from both parties as he prepares to release up to three
discussion drafts of his own.
Probable subjects for those drafts include the taxation of
U.S. companies’ foreign income, tax administration and capital
cost recovery, said Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican on
the Finance panel.
This article first appeared in bloomberg.com.