By Bernie Becker - 02/19/14 04:24 PM EST
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) will release a “comprehensive discussion draft” on tax reform next week, according to a message Camp sent to his fellow committee members.
Camp, in an at times combative message, told Republicans on the panel that he had decided to move ahead even though “many in Washington are scared by the prospects of tax reform.”
“We can choose to have a real discussion about what tax reform can mean for American families and employers or we can choose to cower to special interests and maintain the status quo,” Camp wrote in a message obtained by The Hill. “Clearly, I choose the former.”
The Ways and Means chairman also noted that those trying to put the brakes on tax reform “don’t want to look special interests in the eye and say the game is up.”
“Well, it is,” Camp added. “We simply cannot afford the business as usual mentality that keeps Washington comfortable, but complacent.”
Camp said his plan would both simplify the tax code for both employers and families and give a spark to the economic recovery, but added no new details about the proposals in the discussion draft.
He also noted that Doug Elmendorf, head of the Congressional Budget Office, had agreed to give his tax reform plan a secondary score that would try more fully to estimate the economic impact of the changes to the code.
Top House Republicans were skeptical for several reasons about Camp pushing ahead in his efforts to rewrite the tax code, not least because few in Washington believe Congress can get tax reform across the finish line in 2014.
A spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday that the GOP leader thanked Camp for his efforts on tax reform, but stopped short of endorsing the Ways and Means chairman’s decision to release a draft.
"The Speaker strongly supports tax reform to help get our economy moving and create more American jobs, and thanks Chairman Camp for his continuing work on this important issue,” Michael Steel told The Hill in a statement.
GOP leaders are said to be concerned about a measure that would have to end popular tax provisions in exchange for lower tax rates — especially in the heat of an election year. The House GOP has for years said its goal was to cut the top individual and corporate rates, now at roughly 40 percent and 35 percent, respectively, down to 25 percent.
On top of that, top Republicans have for months wanted to instead keep the focus on President Obama’s healthcare law and its botched rollout.
Democrats and Republicans also remain at odds over whether a new tax code should raise more revenues for the federal government.
Senate Democratic leaders themselves have scoffed at tax reform efforts, and the chamber’s new top tax writer, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), has sounded skeptical that tax reform can be completed this year.
—This post was updated at 6:20 p.m.