GOP loves tax reform, in theory. In reality? Not so much
February 26th, 2014
07:56 PM ET
6 months ago

GOP loves tax reform, in theory. In reality? Not so much

Washington (CNN) – Republicans, who have spent years clamoring for tax reform, were much less enthusiastic Wednesday when faced with a sweeping tax overhaul plan in an election year, reticent to discuss whether the proposal from House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Michigan, should even get a vote.

Camp's "Tax Reform Act of 2014" would lower tax rates for most Americans, but presents conservatives with an uncomfortable tradeoff: It raises the tax bill for large banks and the wealthy.

"This is the beginning of the conversation," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters. When asked about the tax increases in the draft, he dismissed the question, answering, "Blah, blah, blah, blah."

When CNN asked whether the 979-page bill will get a vote, the Republican leader from Ohio seemed to indicate it's too early to discuss that, too. "We are going to start the conversation today," he said.

All conversation, no action?

"The Boehner response was essentially a vote of no confidence," said Stan Collender, a former House and Senate budget staffer who is now an Executive Vice President with Qorvis Communications in Washington.

"It's really very simple," Collender asserted. "Republicans cannot possibly vote on a tax increase before the 2014 election."

Collender sees the timing and politics surrounding the Camp plan and its politically tricky tax increases as reaching into the presidential cycle.

"I think this puts the nail in the coffin of tax reform until after the 2016 election." Collender said.

Rank-and-file Republicans were still reading the details of the Camp plan Wednesday, but those few who had seen the proposal were reserving substantive comment for the moment.

"We're starting this debate, we'll see how far it can go," said House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin. "This is the beginning, this is a discussion draft."

A holy grail quest

Comprehensive tax reform has achieved near-holy grail status in the Capitol, which has not seen substantial tax overhaul since 1986. It is a difficult topic, fraught with political hazards on all sides. As a result, comprehensive proposals such as Camp's are exceedingly rare.

The conservative Heritage Action for America group gave Camp high marks for putting a plan on the table, but acknowledged that his effort is hitting walls with lobbyists and special interests whose clients could lose tax exemptions or see taxes go up in the proposal.

"Too many people in this town are afraid of putting their cards on the table." said Dan Holler, Heritage's communications director. "So to the extent that Camp produced a document that will get a bunch of people on K Street upset, that's a positive."

All of this adds up to a powerful document containing tough choices, but for the moment seems to be going nowhere.

A fellow Republican's comments even undercut the Camp report a full day before it was released.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who faces a tough re-election battle in Kentucky, told reporters Tuesday that Republicans and Democrats are too far apart for tax reform to be possible this year.

By Wednesday morning, some House conservatives were shaking their heads at the possible limbo for tax reform, and the state of the legislative process in general.

"I don't like the idea of doing nothing," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. "The problem in this town is it's always an election year."

He sighed as he walked down a basement hallway. "We have to get past the idea that we have an election on the horizon," he concluded.


Filed under: Financial Reform • Republicans • Taxes
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    Why would the GOP want to create a more equal and simpler tax code ?

    Answer , they wouldn't !

    February 26, 2014 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  2. Tampa Tim

    Time and again, we have seen republicans fail to lead, fail to offer solutions, fail to work for all Americans. What they are good at is criticizing any efforts that would address a problem. It worked for them in 2010, and they haven't earned their salaries since.

    February 26, 2014 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  3. rs

    To be completely fair, the IRS Codes have been building almost as an accretion, and at that for a high array special interests, so much so that the codes are virtually set up to allow loophole after loophole for virtually any special case one can think of. Tearing it all up and starting over is tempting and in fact perhaps called for. Saying that though is the reality that our codes could also be cleaned- close the loopholes, shut down the tax havens- or make it illegal to stash income abroad. All of those could be a start while an appropriate committee of accountants and tax specialists build a new tax code. Should this be done by Congress? Absolutely not. This is how the IRS code got the way it is.

    February 26, 2014 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  4. S. B. Stein

    The problem is that there are many tax loop holes in the law as currently written that support GOP sources and friends.

    February 26, 2014 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  5. Marie MD

    And the truth is finally out there in black and white.
    "Camp's "Tax Reform Act of 2014" would lower tax rates for most Americans, but presents conservatives with an uncomfortable tradeoff: It raises the tax bill for large banks and the wealthy."
    In other words the teaklans do ONLY care about those who have the most to continue having the most while the rest of us (vanishing middle class, seniors (thanks Reagan), the poor, children and even veterans) sink into the rising waters because they don't believe in climate change either.
    Pathetic group of hypocritical jobs for life bunch!.

    February 26, 2014 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  6. Ron L

    This is what I dislike the most about the Republicans, they are great "talkers". Say what you will about the ACA the Democrats had talked for decades about the desire to make Health care affordable for all Americans. When they got the opportunity, they passed it. The law is overly complicated, the website was poorly designed and launched. BUT THEY DID IT!! And I believe it 10 years most Americans will remember how crappy the program began, but most will be glad it happened. Now look at the Republicans, they have "talked about" simplifying the tax laws for at least 10 years. They have had control of the House for the last two years and they have done NOTHING!! Why?? It is simple to "equalize" and "simplify" our tax codes you HAVE to eliminate some of the ridiculous tax deductions that the rich get that allows many of them to pay 17% while working Americans pay on average 33%. They FEAR if they do this it will have a negative impact on the donations they receive for the next election cycle. Being reelected is the #1 priority for most of them all of the time. So what they will do for the next 9 months is complain, pout, be negative about the ACA and anything else the Democrats or President suggests. How do you people continue to vote for people who are mostly against everything and suggest very little to correct it? It just doesn't make sense and it keeps the country stuck. They need to lose control of the House because they just don't have their act together and it is preventing real progress from happening.

    February 26, 2014 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  7. Bubba

    If you make less than $150K per year and Vote GOP; here's your sign.

    February 26, 2014 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  8. Ron L

    These (many republicans) are the same people that are against raising the minimum wage $2.45 over three year to $10.10. At the same time they are against increasing the tax burden of people earning $450,000.00 a year an extra 8 to 10% per year. The minimum wage is so low, the U.S. government (me and you in taxes) pays out close to $200 billion dollars a year in earned income credit amounts and SNAP payments to these workers!! This makes sense to you?? I just don't understand.

    February 26, 2014 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  9. Tony

    "Camp's 'Tax Reform Act of 2014' would lower tax rates for most Americans, but presents conservatives with an uncomfortable tradeoff: It raises the tax bill for large banks and the wealthy."

    Camp is the House Ways and Means Chairman, so he has to work with real numbers. This is his way of saying that even Republicans know cutting taxes does not raise revenues.

    February 26, 2014 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  10. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    They love as long as the Koch brothers taxes don't go up and dry up their payoffs!!!!

    February 26, 2014 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  11. Chris-E...al

    Who's g0t cash to pay more tax's? After a maddi jumps up out of the ground in the home land !

    February 26, 2014 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  12. Wes

    I see Lois Lerner wants immunity if she testifies. Why?

    February 26, 2014 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  13. John in Brooklyn

    Ironically, "blah, blah, blah, blah" seems to be the de facto Republican answer to EVERY critical issue facing America. Sadly, the ONLY issue that seems unify them is, well, shutting America down.

    February 27, 2014 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  14. J.V.Hodgson

    The spending cuts and benefits ( food stamps long term unemployment benefits) and social security WELLS have run dry of further serious savings for Budget = deficit cutting and debt reduction especially when combined with the sequester cuts in other areas like defense etc.
    Tax reform is as both sides agree is the remaining significant area where economically viable savings in tax giveaways or playing around with rates to still get more taxes from lower rates as the economy expands. I just do not see why the house and Senate ways and means committees cannot both sit down with opposing plans and get to a consensus.
    The constant, Oh its an election year making it so this democrat or this republican cannot negotiate this and still get re-elected, insults the intelligence of any voter republican or democrat.
    Frankly, I am fed up of being insulted by both parties.... who put ideology 100 % first and not the nations best interests.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    February 27, 2014 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  15. Anonymous

    As usual, they were for it before they were against it...

    February 27, 2014 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  16. Michael MN

    Really ? for the most part the GOP are all talk trying to scare the weak minded sheep into letting them decimate them in favor of the 1 % – they have no interist in governing just a interist in making one man fail and america fail to gain power and reward those that finance there never ending campaigns

    February 27, 2014 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  17. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    What's new? They are finished working for the year. November comes quickly for all of them.

    February 27, 2014 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  18. king

    i wonder if these folks are capable of governing, it has to be 100 percent their way or else it aint a bill. these are the people that our country is clamoring to elect this November, a bunch of talkers, and no walkers. they can speak as if they can solve every woes that hinder the american people even though their remedies always seems to throw the country in reverse. lesson repubs this is a country of the people, not the corporations, and no mitten corporations are not people too. soon or later the people eyes will be opened and they will slowly start realizing that their presents in America are not needed anymore.

    February 27, 2014 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  19. quinLee

    "Camp's "Tax Reform Act of 2014" would lower tax rates for most Americans, but presents conservatives with an uncomfortable tradeoff: It raises the tax bill for large banks and the wealthy."

    What else could make it clearer to the folks being duped by the smaller gov and lower taxes mantra. On the GOP scale, the interests of "large banks and the wealthy" significantly outweighs those of "most Americans".

    February 27, 2014 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  20. salty dog

    What's new, they've done nothing to this point, why not make it a full eight years, what happens when Clinton wins, eight more years, get rid of them!

    February 27, 2014 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  21. Fair is Fair

    "I don't like the idea of doing nothing," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. "The problem in this town is it's always an election year."
    ------
    Truer words were never spoken.

    February 27, 2014 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  22. HenryMiller

    ""Tax Reform Act of 2014" would lower tax rates for most Americans, but presents conservatives with an uncomfortable tradeoff: It raises the tax bill for large banks and the wealthy."

    Why not do the right thing and lower everyone's tax bill? And, at the same time, more than proportionately reduce government expenditures.

    February 27, 2014 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  23. The Real Tom Paine

    -Fair is Fair

    "I don't like the idea of doing nothing," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. "The problem in this town is it's always an election year."
    --
    Truer words were never spoken.
    *********************
    Solving problems also deprives the parties of talking points as well. People in DC are always thinking tactically, as opposed to actually doing their jobs, and elections be damned.

    February 27, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  24. The Real Tom Paine

    -HenryMiller

    ""Tax Reform Act of 2014" would lower tax rates for most Americans, but presents conservatives with an uncomfortable tradeoff: It raises the tax bill for large banks and the wealthy."

    Why not do the right thing and lower everyone's tax bill? And, at the same time, more than proportionately reduce government expenditures.
    ********************
    If you think that lowering your federal taxes is going to result in a real reduction in your overall taxes, guess again. The burden gets pushed off onto states and municipalities, who will raise their taxes, or create new fees to make up the difference. That was the result of Reagan's New Federalism, a huge jump in your state and local taxes.

    February 27, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |