Rep. Dave Camp dismissed charges by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank that his tax reform measure was not truly bipartisan and the House Ways and Means Committee chairman "deserves some of the blame for the failure to make it happen."
Citing a March 2 column in the Post, Newsmax asked the Michigan Republican about Milbank's claim that "the Ways and Means hearing calendar since May tells the story: three on the IRS targeting, three on Obamacare, and one each on trade and multinational corporations. Subcommittees joined the rush to probe the administration. Lost, for the most part, was tax reform."
"You have to walk and chew gum at the same time," Camp said about Milbank's charge.
"I didn't ask for the IRS targeting. And if the key witness had not taken the Fifth Amendment, we would be at the bottom of this by now," said Camp, referring to former IRS tax-exempt division head Lois Lerner, who refused to testify last May and again on Wednesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
"We still need all of Lois Lerner's emails and haven't received them," Camp said Thursday at a press breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. "There are eight things that our committee needs [in the IRS probe] that we asked the new IRS commissioner for and we received half of one of them. We don't have everything we need."
As to Milbank's claim that tax reform was "lost" in the process on the Ways and Means panel, its chairman noted that "at least 30 hearings on tax reform" have been held by congressional committees in the past year and "there is lots of bipartisanship there."
In underscoring the bipartisan flavor he has tried to instill in his tax reform measure, Camp cited his counterpart on the Senate side, incoming Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.
"I worked with him when he was in the House, and in the last two Congresses, he has introduced comprehensive tax reform legislation with Republican co-sponsors," Camp said.
As another example of bipartisanship in the tax reform measure he released last week, Camp stressed that "we really have tried to keep the healthcare debate out of tax reform and not make tax reform about the Affordable Care Act."
Camp did say that his tax-reform measure calls for the repeal of the tax on medical devices that is contained in the Affordable Care Act.
"But this is an area that has strong bipartisan support," he said, adding that such a tax "would have an effect on seniors and an immediate negative effect on manufacturers."
Along with Obamacare, another highly contentious issue that Camp has kept out of tax reform has been the outright repeal of the estate tax — something that the Obama administration and the Democratic congressional leadership oppose and that Camp and most of his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill strongly support.
Shortly after Camp's appearance at the press breakfast, Jim Martin, chairman of the 60 Plus Association, told Newsmax that Camp "has given his assurance we will have a separate up-or-down vote on 'death-tax' repeal."
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