March 16th, 2010
06:35 PM ET
13 years ago

Bipartisanship thrives – but not on health care

Washington (CNN) – While Congressional Democrats and Republicans threw dirt bombs at one another over health care on Tuesday, two Senate veterans engaged in actual bipartisanship a few blocks away on an issue far from the headlines: Tax reform.

Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, and Judd Gregg, R-New Hampshire, spoke before a small audience at the Heritage Foundation on a bill they introduced last month to dramatically overhaul federal tax law.

In terms of its scope, Wyden-Gregg is big. For individuals, the bill would halve the number of individual tax rates to three. It would end the Alternative Minimum Tax, which lawmakers have been "temporarily" fixing for years so it doesn't smack middle-income families.

It would consolidate the three different kinds of individual retirement accounts. The Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act would also clean up the corporate tax system. It would get rid of the current rate structure and replace it with one flat corporate rate of 24 percent, and eliminate a lot of big corporate tax breaks.

Many tax experts, who say reform is overdue, have welcomed the bill. The current tax code, they say, is marred by thousands of nooks and crannies and ill-equipped to raise the revenue the government will need to close future deficits.

Wyden and Gregg said they tried to write a politically viable bill. For instance, their legislation would leave intact the mortgage interest deduction for homeowners. Any move to dial back the popular deduction would unleash the fury of the real estate lobby.

But the way forward for their bill is uncertain. It would still do away with numerous deductions and credits and will serve as a juicy red target for groups seeking to hang on to provisions that benefit them.

"You will have thousands of interest groups weighing in," Wyden said.

Then there's the small matter of this year's midterm elections, which would make the passage of any such sweeping legislation a slog. Gregg, who is not running for re-election, was asked what he thought about the bill's outlook.

"Passage in late July," he said drolly to giggles in the audience.

Filed under: Judd Gregg • Ron Wyden • Taxes
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Stacie

    I wouldn't call that "thriving". Two senators are working together on creating one bill. Any guesses as to which party will vote against it????

    March 16, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  2. get real

    How can you say bipartisan is thriving when the tea party folks are running around today with posters of the President of the United States in a coffin?!?! (and they call themselves patriots, really!)

    March 16, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  3. Ron in NC

    Lets be honest, Republicans only care about the profits to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries and could care less about the health of Americans....except themselves since "What me Worry?"

    March 16, 2010 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  4. ej in Tacoma

    These people don't deserve health care reform or a President like Obama. Insurance companies are eating holes in our pockets and many are losing there homes and jobs because of their cooperate greed. I am glad to see some issues are being discussed in a bipartisan fashion.
    ej in Tacoma

    March 16, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  5. Donald

    Great job working together

    March 16, 2010 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  6. Victim of GOP Taliban

    We need a simple flax tax where everybody pays the same. I'm tired of allowing millionaires to zero-out and not pay ANY income tax due to all the loopholes. Just because someone owns properties or runs a business doesn't make it okay to not pay their fair share...or in some cases not pay anything.

    March 16, 2010 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  7. Andy

    This HC bill is a disaster both medically and economically.Everything the Feds touch turns to disaster and we have so many always with their hands out for a government hand out since they pay 0 taxes.The entitlement crowd will always ask for more freebies and that is what this is for 50%.HOW MUCH MORE CAN THE TAX PAYERS SUPPORT.

    March 16, 2010 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  8. Paul H

    No the answer is no. This is even worse than reconciliation. It bypasses our whole system of governing in this country. It has no consideration for how we the people feel or think on this issue.
    When government decides they are going to impose their will over the will of the people then it's time for everyone to go. If we allow this to happen, then we have opened the door to Tyranny: the word "tyrant" carries connotations of a harsh and cruel ruler who places his or her own interests or the interests of a small oligarchy over the best interests of the general population, which the tyrant governs or controls.
    Just look at the actions of your so called Representatives people.

    March 16, 2010 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  9. Jake

    HC is just NObama's ego power drive and make a name for myself.He has made a name-a MORON/LIAR in an empty suit.He is the absolute worst in my 60 years.A real phony and have his sheep following him to the slaughter house.Some just can not see the light.

    March 16, 2010 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  10. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    Wrong. There is bipartisanship in health care. Both democrats and Republicans are united against it.

    March 16, 2010 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  11. j

    Sounds interesting. I'd like to hear more about. Anything that simplifies the tax system without increasing taxes for the poor and middle class sounds like a good idea.

    March 16, 2010 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  12. JON

    dems couldn't get health care past the insurance companies wait until big bus. like oil gas auto and insurance get hold of this . reduce big bus. tax credits...right the only tax credit will go to big bus. and small bus will get stuck holding the bag. this is what the repubs do . do you really think they lookout for you? wyden is a wolf in dem clothing. be ready America you want to know how we're going to pay for the last 8 years that the rich got richer and the middle class was lost this is how tax break for the rich and higher taxes for middle and lower class.

    March 16, 2010 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  13. 10 percent

    We need a flat rate tax system, 10 % of what you make. whether it be millions a year or a welfare check. Everyone should pull their weight and get rid of the give away systems that are constantly abused. also we need to prosecute the ones who receive these tax dollars by fraud. Then they could collect their give awayby the way of prison food.

    March 16, 2010 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |