Camp, Baucus launch new tax reform website

“We want to be able to hear the stories of people who have had difficulty filing, who have ideas on how we can improve the code. We’ve had more than 50 hearings between our two committees. But now we need to really hear from the average person.”

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Camp and Baucus face several hurdles in their ultimate goal of a broad rewrite of the tax code — not least the fact that Democrats and Republicans in Washington aren’t on the same page on whether the government should collect more revenues to reduce deficits.

“My sense is, like a lot of things in this town, that we’re going to have to compromise,” Baucus said. “If we want tax reform, there’s going to be some rate reduction, there’s going to be some revenue raised.”

“Most of my caucus is not in favor of new revenues,” Camp said. “We’ve got to move forward on getting the policy right and working together to get the best possible tax code, and then we’ll resolve those issues as we move ahead.”

But in tackling a tax code full of narrow preferences and incentives, the tax-writing committees will also be dealing with provisions that have regional interests or defenders on K Street.

Both Camp and Baucus have made tax reform a top priority for this Congress, with neither scheduled to have a gavel in 2015. Baucus announced recently that he would not seek another term in 2014, and Camp is term-limited as Ways and Means chairman.

Camp has stressed repeatedly that his panel will clear a tax reform package this year, but Baucus stopped short of vowing the same thing in the NPR interview.

Both chairmen also said that the coming debate over raising the debt ceiling this summer or fall could provide an opportunity to move tax reform forward. House Republicans are meeting next week to game out their strategy on the debt limit.

"I think the pressures will help,” Baucus said. “Some are going to look at that to change the sequester, some are going to look at it to maybe address entitlements. Some are going to think about tax reform.”