Still, Mr. Camp is “encouraged that President Obama’s talking about tax reform, although I might not agree with everything he says about it. But it’s always helpful when a president is talking about an issue that puts it back on the table.”
Nevertheless, Mr. Obama’s sudden decision to call for only partial tax reform is mystifying because he’s avoided the issue altogether, even as it has been moving on Capitol Hill. Indeed, he shelved the comprehensive tax-reform plan proposed by the co-chairmen of his own presidential debt-reduction commission.
While Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson have been lobbying for lower tax rates to get the economy running again and shrinking the deficit, Mr. Obama has been pushing for higher taxes on just about everyone — turning it into a fight between Democrats and Republicans.
However, as Mr. Camp pointedly noted, comprehensive reform is at the heart of the plan being promoted by Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, the Democratic chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee. “You have a situation here where both Sen. Baucus and I want tax reform for individuals as well as businesses,” he said.
At the same time, there was growing support for broad-based tax-rate reform from Democrats at the grass roots. Mr. Camp said that while he was attending a recent tax-reform event in Pennsylvania, that state’s former Democratic Gov. Edward G. Rendell, a liberal, “showed up and said, ‘You have my support.’”
Mr. Camp says he’s “close” to marking up a bill when Congress returns from its August recess. “So that means a very busy fall when we come back,” he said. “My goal is to have the House act before the end of the year.”
It’s been a long process getting to the doorstep of a top-to-bottom overhaul of the tax code. “We’ve done probably 50 hearings between the House and Senate,” numerous hearings around the country and solicited thousands of proposed ideas on committee websites.
As for businesses giving up many of their tax breaks, top executives and business lobbies have told Mr. Camp they are willing to do just that in exchange for a 25 percent tax rate.
The final product “will need to raise $40.2 trillion over 10 years. That’s the revenue target we’ll have to hit,” he said.
At some point when the bill is written, it will be “scored” by the Joint Committee on Taxation to show how much it will reduce the deficit, grow the economy and expand the job market.
It’s clear, though, that Mr. Obama still doesn’t get it. He continues to call for more 1930s-style public-works spending as the cure for a job-starved economy.
Mr. Camp is proposing that we free our economy from a suffocating tax code to unlock needed capital investment, stronger growth, new enterprises and a wave of better-paying jobs. His plan deserves our support.
Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.