Tax reform bill unveiled in House despite slim prospects for passage

Feb. 26, 2014 at 4:11 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Draft legislation to reform the U.S. tax code was introduced Wednesday after House Speaker John Boehner tried to lower expectations about the bill's prospects.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., released draft legislation he said would lower tax rates while making the code simpler and fairer for families and job creators.

"It is no secret that Americans are struggling," Camp said in a release. "We've already lost a decade, and before we lose a generation, Washington needs to wake up to this reality and start offering concrete solutions and debating real policies that strengthen the economy and help hardworking taxpayers. Tax reform is one way we can do that."

Camp said the Tax Reform Act of 2014 would -- based on an analysis by the independent, non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation -- create as many as 1.8 million new private sector jobs, allow about 95 percent of tax filers to get the lowest possible tax rate by claiming the standard deduction and strengthen the economy and increase gross domestic product by up to $3.4 trillion, without increasing the budget deficit.

Using data provided by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Camp said the average middle-class family of four could benefit by an extra $1,300 per year from the combination of lower tax rates in the plan and higher wages due to a stronger economy.

"This legislation does not reflect ideas solely advanced by Democrats or ideas solely advanced by Republicans, nor is it limited to the halls of Congress," Camp said. "Instead, this is a comprehensive plan that reflects input and ideas championed by Congress, the Administration and, most importantly, the American people."

Before Camp revealed his tax plan, Boehner, R-Ohio, called the document "a discussion draft" and sought to lower expectations for fast action on the plan, the Hill reported.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said pieces of Camp's proposal were "encouraging" and the Obama administration would "certainly take part" in discussions with members of either party.

Earnest said the White House was pleased to see Camp's proposal closes some of loopholes "that the president has long advocated closing," including a corporate jet tax loophole and the carried-interest tax loophole, along with "a series of other unfair tax loopholes that don't contribute to long-term economic growth."

However, Earnest said the White House was concerned "there doesn't appear to be any revenue raised from the proposal that goes to reducing the deficit," among other things.

The White House, Earnest said, was well aware that prospects were dim for passage of such a complicated piece of legislation.

"There's not a great about of optimism on Capitol Hill for any kind of legislative proposal that seems complicated," he said. "There is no doubt that by any definition reforming a tax code, particularly the business tax code, is complicated."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. R-Ky., said Tuesday tax reform was unlikely in 2014, an election year.

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