By MIke Lillis - 01/20/11 07:43 PM EST
Similarly, Rangel said a GOP proposal to create a flat tax for families "deserves a fair hearing." But he cautioned that such a tax would likely invalidate a long list of popular exemptions.
"We won't have mortgage deductions; we won't have charitable deductions; we will not be able to deduct local and state tax," said Rangel. "That's why you have to have a hearing rather than just a concept."
The Harlem Democrat also warned that a flat tax "could cause particular problems" with lower income people forced to pay the same rates as the wealthy.
Behind the White House, House Democrats have made comprehensive tax reform a central focus of their agenda in the 112th Congress. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters Tuesday that only efforts to bolster domestic manufacturing and cut deficit spending would get as much attention from Democratic leaders.
In December, the White House joined forces with Senate Republicans to hammer out a two-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for all income levels. President Obama has relayed hopes that the two-year window will allow time to enact comprehensive tax reform, thus making another extension of the Bush cuts irrelevant.
Rangel, for his part, said "the most important thing" on the tax issue is comprehensive reform.
"There's hundreds of billions of dollars of waste in the present tax system," he said, "and we can raise money and reform the system."
The remarks came the same day that Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chairman of the Ways and Means panel, warned that Republicans might not introduce their reform bill this year.
"It's a very complicated issue," Camp told reporters Wednesday.