Top GOP tax-writer reassessing what's possible on tax reform

Camp’s committee, which also deals with key entitlement programs, could be at the center of many of the fiscal talks in the upcoming year. The Michigan Republican has already said that he plans to move a tax reform bill through the panel in 2013.

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But the aftermath of the recent tax deal underscores the significant differences that remain between Democrats and Republicans, and the obstacles to raising the debt limit and reaching a broad deal on the tax code.

Camp has joined other key Republicans — like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — in saying the GOP will stand firm against any further revenue increases. Democrats, meanwhile, have said they will continue to seek more revenues to eat into deficits. 

“We've established permanent tax policy,” Camp said. “We've established the permanent level of revenue the government's going to get. And we're not going to go back there again."

“We've now done the revenue piece,” Camp added.

But with the top tax rate now at 39.6 percent, Camp also said he would have to see how much tax reform could lower rates.

The House GOP’s budget from last year called for lowering the top rate to 25 percent, from a then top rate of 35 percent, and officials on both sides of the aisle remain interested in scrapping tax breaks in exchange for a reduced top rate.

“We're going to still try to get there,” Camp said of the 25 percent marker. 

The Ways and Means chairman also declined to say Friday exactly how much spending restraint Republicans would need to see in a debt limit agreement. The GOP, in the 2011 debate over the debt ceiling, called for cuts that at least matched the hike in the debt limit.

President Obama has said that he would not negotiate with Republicans over raising the debt limit, but suggested that revenues would need to be on the table in any future fiscal fight.

“What we need to do is to increase the debt ceiling, also have the sort of spending reform and controls that we need to see, because as I said, it's out of control,” Camp said.

Camp also suggested that talks over the last couple of years — including the Simpson-Bowles commission and the supercommittee, both of which Camp served on — had found some common ground over potential spending cuts. 

“What we really need is a partner with Democrats who are willing to now step forward and say, these are the things we need to do,” Camp said. “We're spending more than we bring in.”