- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Rep. Dave Camp insisted Wednesday his plan to overhaul America’s tax code can gain traction and pass this Congress, despite little appetite by key players to take it on in an election year and term limits that will edge him out as chairman of the House’s tax committee in 2015.

“This is a debate that we need to have in this country,” the Michigan Republican said in a wide-ranging interview hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Mr. Camp, as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, has worked for three years to reform the nation’s labyrinthine tax model in a way that would lower corporate rates and, ideally, kick-start the lagging economy.

He said changes to the tax structure would invite business growth, help a generation of young adults move out from their parents’ homes, and simplify a system that forces people to spend too much time and money on compliance.

“The tax code is 10 times the size of the Bible with none of the good news,” he said.

But key players in Congress have signaled the plan may be dead on arrival, and Mr. Camp will not be able to see his plan through unless he gets a waiver to stay on as chairman of his powerful committee.

“I’m not going to discount anything,” he said, quipping, “I ask people to vote for me, I’m an optimist.”

He brushed aside questions about whether he will seek permission to stay on as chairman — even though his six-year limit will be up — or if he will try for the speaker’s gavel, should current Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, decide next year that he’s sick of leading a fractured GOP caucus.

“We need to win the majority again and I’m just not going to discuss those options until we’ve actually won the majority, and I’m not going to take my eye off of the ball on that,” he said.

Asked if it was a mistake to limit the length that someone could serve as committee chairman, he paused, smiled and said, “Yeah, I think so.”

Nonetheless, he said nine months left in the current Congress is enough time for the House to get things done.

He said aspects of his plan should be common sense. The earned-income tax credit, for instance, doles out $10 billion a year in fraudulent or mistaken payments, and he said more stringent requirements could safeguard funds without punishing deserving, low-income recipients.

He also called on Congress to repeal the medical device tax tied to Obamacare, noting there is bipartisan support to scrap the excise on manufacturers because there are fears it is thwarting job growth and investment in the sector.

And he defended his committee’s focus on the new health care law and other topics, such as the IRS’ alleged targeting of nonprofits for their political beliefs, in addition to tax reform.

“You have to walk and chew gum at the same time,” he said.