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Camp Says Draft of Tax Revamp Will Be Released Next Week

Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) -- The top Republican tax writer in Congress next week will release a draft plan to revamp the U.S. tax code.

Representative Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told Republican members of the panel in a letter that he plans to release his long-awaited proposal to lower tax rates and broaden the tax base.

“Many in Washington are scared by the prospects of tax reform; they don’t want to look special interests in the eye and say the game is up,” wrote Camp, a Michigan Republican. “Well, it is. We simply cannot afford the business-as-usual mentality that keeps Washington comfortable, but complacent.”

Camp’s plan would face a series of hurdles, including skepticism from top House Republicans and opposition from Democrats who want a system that raises more revenue for the U.S. instead of the revenue-neutral approach Camp supports.

Camp has been working on his proposal since he became chairman of the committee in 2011 as Republicans took control of the House of Representatives. He recently lost his Senate negotiating partner, former Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat who was confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to China.

Baucus’s successor as committee chairman, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, has said an extension of lapsed tax breaks rather than a broader proposal will be his immediate focus.

Top Rate

Camp’s goals have been to lower top tax rates to 25 percent, down from 39.6 percent for individuals and 35 percent for corporations. Achieving that would require curtailing some widely used tax breaks, which could include the home mortgage interest deduction and the special tax deduction for domestic manufacturing.

Those details could prove politically difficult for Republicans to defend, and House leaders have shown little interest in making Camp’s proposal a priority.

Camp’s letter offered no new details about the contents of his plan.

Camp, 60, will reach the end of his tenure as Ways and Means chairman at the end of the year because of Republican term limits for committee leaders.

“We can choose to have a real discussion about what tax reform can mean for American families and employers, or we can choose to cower to special interests and maintain the status quo,” he wrote. “Clearly, I choose the former.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Rubin in Washington at rrubin12@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net

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