House Republican leaders are worried about political damage if the party’s top tax writer releases a plan to revise the U.S. tax code and limit popular breaks, four House Republican aides said.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp wants to push legislation through his panel this year. The biggest changes since 1986 would raise taxes for many Americans while lowering them for others, creating a challenge for Republicans who don’t want a distraction from their attacks on the flawed rollout of President Barack Obama’s health-care law.
Camp, who wants to curtail tax breaks and lower rates, is scheduled to meet on Nov. 14 with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican. Other committee members, House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy also will be at the meeting, one of the aides said.
Republican leaders can’t stop Camp from releasing a bill. They could urge him to wait, say they would withhold support or ask other party members to tell Camp that they oppose his plan.
Camp told reporters at the Capitol today he didn’t want to prejudge his meeting with party leaders, and that he wasn’t sure whether he would release the bill before the House leaves Washington Nov. 21 for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.
“I look forward to discussing the merits of tax reform with our leadership,” said Camp, a Michigan Republican. “I think the time is right, we need a pro-growth reform agenda.”
The aides spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the intraparty quandary and said no final decisions have been made on what to do about tax-law revisions or what leaders should tell Camp. 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.
Republican leaders are concerned about the lack of a path to a tax law, given their opposition to raising taxes and Democrats’ insistence that any major tax-code changes be accompanied with revenue increases, the aides said.
The issue has reached the point where Republicans must decide whether it’s the right time to move forward, a senior House Republican aide said.
That aide said a potential worry is opposition from lawmakers outside the Ways and Means panel who are generally supportive of the concept without being steeped in the details and might object to ending specific tax breaks.
Republicans also want to keep the public’s focus on flaws in the health-care law and continue bipartisan budget talks without opening up the possibility of tax increases.
Camp has held the details of his plan closely, particularly those on politically charged issues such as the mortgage interest deduction, capital gains rates and the exclusion for employer-provided health insurance.
He has been holding a series of closed-door meetings with his committee’s Republican members during the past few months as they try to draft a proposal with the goal of lowering 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 businesses.
A committee Republican aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Camp’s timeline hasn’t changed. Ways and Means Republicans are scheduled to meet tomorrow.
Camp has been working with Senate Finance 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 said last week that he plans to begin releasing discussion drafts in the next two weeks.
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