The latest attempt to make the biggest change to the U.S. tax code in 29 years isn’t just an exercise, said the top Senate Republican tax-law writer.
Orrin Hatch of Utah, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said “cynics” shouldn’t discount the possibility of bipartisan progress.
“This is not theater, nor is it just for show,” Hatch will say Tuesday in a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, according to prepared remarks. “I don’t want to just release a framework or a proposal that doesn’t go anywhere. My only goal when it comes to tax reform is to make new law.”
Hatch, who created five bipartisan working groups on taxes last week, said he hopes the Finance panel can hold votes on a major tax bill later this year.
It’s a daunting task.
Hatch, 80, said he wants to lower individual tax rates and avoid raising taxes or widening budget deficits.
President Barack Obama, by contrast, wants to increase taxes on top earners, and the tax debate will play out with another presidential election looming.
Obama will outline a plan in Tuesday’s State of the Union address to increase capital gains taxes on top earners and use the proceeds to expand tax credits for middle-income families.
“This plan that we’ll hear about tonight appears to be more about redistribution, with added complexity, and class warfare, directed at job-creating small businesses, than about tax reform, which is unfortunate,” Hatch said.
Hatch also outlined the rest of the Finance Committee agenda for this year.
On trade, an issue where he and Obama largely agree, Hatch said he will move “carefully but quickly” to give Obama so- called fast-track negotiating authority. That would let Congress have an up-or-down vote on any trade deal.
That approach, Hatch said, “actually enhances Congress’s role in trade negotiations by giving specific direction to the administration as to what they need to deliver to get an agreement through Congress.”
The committee’s first bill will be a House-passed measure that exempts some veterans from Obamacare’s employer mandate.
The committee will also work on finding money for highways, reauthorizing the children’s health insurance plan and repealing pieces of Obamacare such as the excise tax on medical devices.
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