Hats off to U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich. and chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, who on Wednesday will put out a proposal for a comprehensive overhaul of the federal tax system.
Republicans often wale on the U.S. tax system — rates too high, too complicated, bad for the economy — which is much easier to do than to actually specify how you would change it. A litany of vague complaints about the code would be easy to compile, as would a litany of complaints about specific tax provisions, which usually come down to: The people that have to pay this tax don’t like it. But that is cheap political theater.
Camp’s term as chair of the storied House committee that oversees the tax code is up at the end of this session. And he has apparently spent his tenure devising an actual overhaul. The goal is to eliminate so many special tax breaks that rates can be lowered dramatically and still raise basically the same amount of money as the present system.
We still don’t know many details. But Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post got a look at an overview/analysis of the plan by the staff of the bi-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation. She reports that the revenue-neutral plan will knock the top marginal rate down from 39.6 to 25 percent, although a “10 percent surtax on certain types of earned income” would make the true effective tax rate higher on those with incomes over $450,000.
In order to achieve that kind of rate cut, a great many existing tax breaks will have to be eliminated. Those are in the plan, but haven’t leaked to the public yet.
My main point at the moment is just to applaud Camp for putting out a plan. Politics should be, but seldom is, about things like this.
Unfortunately, more and more, politics for the professionals is about nothing except seeking short-term advantage over the other party, even if it means your own party stands for nothing but good vibrations that stimulate the base and pacify swing voters.
Politico, which announces by its very name that it is obsessed with politics, has a piece allowing various unnamed Republican politicos to express their concern that putting out a tax plan with specifics in it is risky, stupid and crazy.
“Many senior [Republican] figures see no need to open up a new policy discussion in February of an election year without a partner in the Senate and White House,” Politico says, adding:
More than a dozen skeptical lawmakers and senior aides told POLITICO they thought it was a strategic blunder to unveil a plan outlining which loopholes to cut, whose rates will be slashed and which sector of the economy will see higher taxes when there’s little expectation the code will be reformed in 2014.