Top Republican backs Obama on entitlement cuts

Obama’s budget calls for over $100 billion in entitlement savings in all, including from higher Medicare premiums for wealthy beneficiaries.

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Republicans have been prodding Obama to take more of a lead on entitlement reform, especially in the wake of the recent “fiscal cliff” deal that raised some $600 billion in fresh revenues and raised the top individual tax rate to close to 40 percent.

But then Walden, the chairman of the House Republicans’ campaign arm, pounded the budget for looking for entitlement savings, leading Democrats to charge the GOP with hypocrisy.

Camp had some praise for the tax proposals included in the White House’s fiscal 2014 framework, including opening the door to a corporate tax rewrite that would not raise further revenues.

That, Camp said, was a sign the president was evolving on tax reform, after calling last year for as much as $250 billion in new revenues in the administration’s corporate tax framework.

But the Ways and Means chairman’s comments also underscored the challenges that Camp and his counterpart in the Senate, Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), face in getting a comprehensive revamp of the tax code enacted.

Obama’s corporate tax proposals were contingent on an extra $580 billion in revenue from high-earning individuals, something Republicans say is a non-starter. The Senate Democrats budget, passed last month, called for even more revenues.

Camp has also long stressed that a tax overhaul most include the individual tax system, since that’s where many small businesses operate, and Republicans broadly oppose the so-called “Buffett Rule” that the White House tucked into its latest budget.

“I do think that the president’s position of lowering corporate rates for the largest companies in the world, but having Main Street small businesses continue to pay rates as high as 44 percent is not sustainable,” Camp said.

Still, Camp also noted that Obama’s budget incorporated some similar ideas to what the Ways and Means chairman has rolled out in recent months, including on taxing derivatives differently. The Obama budget also includes new proposals to limit retirement accounts and brought back the longstanding proposal to cap deductions at 28 percent.

“I’m pleased the president put some tax reform measures in his budget,” Camp said. “I think it’s always good when the president does that.”