Two of Washington's more powerful lawmakers are pushing ahead with plans to overhaul the federal tax code, even though most lawmakers agree major reform is not likely this year.
Republican Rep. Dave Camp, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, and Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, want to build momentum for tax reform, reports Politico
, even though the two have different ideas about how to go about it.
Camp last week announced 11 different bipartisan working groups on various subjects, including small business and energy. Meanwhile, Baucus and other Finance Committee members are working to draft Senate legislation for this spring.
Baucus is also planning weekly meetings with Democratic Sens. Patty Murray of Washington, who leads the Senate Budget Committee, and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, head of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The parties have different visions for tax reform. President Barack Obama and the Democrats want to close loopholes for the wealthy, but Republicans want to lower tax rates for everyone.
Both sides do agree, however, that fiscal reform is unlikely without changes to the tax code.
Despite the work being done in both chambers, some congressional leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner, don't believe a tax overhaul bill can make it through Congress at the present time. There's also an effort from various lobbying groups to stop any changes that could affect their constituencies.
For example, at a hearing on Feb. 14 before Camp's committee, no less than 40 witnesses showed up to ask lawmakers to leave write-off for charitable deductions intact as they consider reform measures.
A rewrite of the tax code hasn't taken place since 1986. It was a difficult process then, but with Congress more politically divided than ever and the nation's economic outlook more uncertain, reform could be even more difficult this time around.
But some lawmakers still believe the effort is worth it.
Tennessee GOP Rep. Diane Black, who heads a working group on education and family tax benefits, told Politico that keeping the public educated and informed about the process will be important.
“Tax reform is a big challenge, a big issue, and one that I think you have to do a lot of education before you can get to the point where you can even get a draft,” she said.
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