Hatch questions Baucus plan to put out tax reform proposals

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The top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee is questioning the decision by Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to release draft tax reform proposals.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the ranking member of the panel, said Tuesday he wanted to wait for the budget conference committee to finish its work before unveiling any tax reform proposals.

But with Baucus expected to unveil some draft proposals Tuesday, Hatch warned that the bipartisan goal of tax reform could “become mired in a partisan desire by some to raise taxes.”

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Democrats involved in budget talks, including Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), have pushed to include increased revenue in any compromise. Murray has pushed to increase tax revenue in a budget deal to replace some of the sequester cuts, while Republicans have been adamant that if any of the sequester is to be replaced, other spending cuts must take their place.

Hatch wants Baucus to hold off on any tax reform proposals before that debate concluded — the budget conference has until Dec. 13 to reach an agreement, but there has been little sign of progress.

Hatch, saying that there remain “significant policy differences” between the two sides on tax reform, said it is too soon to put out proposals.

“I told Chairman Baucus that we would prefer to hold off on releasing any discussion drafts until after the budget conference concludes in order to ensure that tax reform doesn’t become a victim of this partisanship,” he said. “I hope that once the budget conference negotiations have concluded that we can renew our discussions to determine whether we can find common ground to overhaul our tax code.”

Hatch did not say he opposed Baucus’s proposal directly, and said he respected the decision to move ahead with the reform effort even if he disagreed with it.

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