By Bernie Becker - 02/13/13 11:56 PM EST
Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), the top panel’s top Democrat, added that the “working groups provide a framework to undertake in-depth fact-finding on a variety of important issues related to tax reform."
Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-Ohio), the chairman of the Ways and Means panel on Taxes, said the working groups could allow the two parties to build the sort of trust that was he said was lacking during the debate over the Democratic healthcare overhaul.
But the Ohio Republican also appeared skeptical that the working groups would move the ball forward all that much.
“I think it’s a way to find common ground,” Tiberi told The Hill. “At least we’re talking with each other. I don’t think anything bad can come out of it. And maybe something good will.”
The working groups also come after President Obama’s nod toward tax reform in his State of the Union underwhelmed some Republicans. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has also suggested in recent weeks that a tax reform push might not be worth the effort, given the partisan differences between the two parties.
One congressional aide said the working groups could also buy policymakers more time to see what's politically possible on tax reform.
The leaders of the working groups are: Reps. Dave Reichert (R-Wash) and John Lewis (D-Ga.) at charitable and tax exempt organizations; Reps. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) and Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) at debt, equity and capital; Reps. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Danny Davis (D-Ill.) at education and family benefits; and Reps. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) at the energy working group.
Reps. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) and John Larson (D-Conn.) will helm the financial services working group, and Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) and Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) will lead the income and tax distribution group.
Reps. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) will be in the top spots at the international group, and Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) will lead the manufacturing group.
Finally: Tiberi and Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) will head the pensions and retirement group; Reps. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), the real estate group; and Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) and Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.), the small business and pass-throughs group.
This post was updated at 11:10 a.m. on Thursday Feb. 14.