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April 20, 2014

Posts in "Taxes"

March 24, 2014

Tax Reform to Start With Baby Steps in the House

camp 177 022614 445x296 Tax Reform to Start With Baby Steps in the House

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp is pushing ahead with an incremental approach on tax reform for now.

In a memo to committee colleagues on Monday, the Michigan Republican said he planned to take several steps over the next several months, “pav[ing] the way for tax reform by making incremental progress towards full reform.”

In addition to holding “bipartisan meetings with the staff of the [Joint Committee on Taxation] until we have walked through the entire draft” and convening “public hearings on specific portions of the bill,” Camp said that the panel would mark up “permanent legislation” to address the so-called tax extenders which expire every year. Full story

March 4, 2014

‘Doc Fix’ Puts Republicans in Election-Year Bind

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Majority Leader Eric Cantor is dithering about bringing up legislation to stave off massive pay cuts for doctors set to begin at the end the month, as he worries about political consequences should hospital and nursing home budgets be slashed to pay for the costly bill.

Members and staff sources told CQ Roll Call that the Virginia Republican is concerned dipping into hospital and nursing home coffers would make Republicans vulnerable to election-year political attacks, especially as they try to convince the public that President Barack Obama’s health care law has negatively affected seniors’ health care.

The indecision demonstrates the contradiction of governing during an election year. Republicans have said they want to avoid pushing off must-pass legislation until its deadline, wary of public opinion after October’s partial government shutdown. But they are equally wary of giving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., any ammo for the midterms or angering powerful lobbying groups, in this case those representing hospitals.

“It’s been yes, no and I think they’re back looking at maybe,” said Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., a member of the House Republicans Doctors Caucus, a group of members who focus on health care issues.

Though the issue is hardly a cliff of government shutdown proportions, it does present Congress with a mini-crisis at month’s end.

Full story

February 28, 2014

Kevin Brady Challenging Paul Ryan for Ways and Means Chairmanship

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Brady has put his hat in the ring for the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan has said he wants the Ways and Means Committee gavel next year, but the Wisconsin Republican will face a challenge from Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas.

Brady, the current chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, told columnist Al Hunt in an interview that will air Friday evening that he wants the top slot on the Ways and Means Committee, where he is currently the No. 2 Republican.

Reigning Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., must relinquish his title next year due to term limits.

Full story

February 26, 2014

Camp Gets Plaudits for Tax Plan’s Audacity, but Few Endorsements

camp 179 022614 445x296 Camp Gets Plaudits for Tax Plans Audacity, but Few Endorsements

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp released his long-awaited rewrite of the nation’s tax code into a hostile political environment Wednesday afternoon, earning plaudits for his audacity, but little backing for moving the plan this year.

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and top party leaders received Camp with pats on the back, but largely kept their hands off the substance of the bill.

“Chairman Camp’s worked on this for years. It’s time to have a public discussion about the issue of tax reform, and so I welcome the conversation,” Boehner told reporters earlier in the day. Full story

Boehner Declines to Endorse Camp’s Tax Reform (Updated) (Video)

boehner 009 020414 445x305 Boehner Declines to Endorse Camps Tax Reform (Updated) (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Hours ahead of the rollout, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio declined to endorse Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp’s plan for a rewrite of the country’s tax code.

Pressed repeatedly on whether he supports the bill that the Camp, R-Mich., will unveil Wednesday afternoon, Boehner said only that it is a “discussion draft” that will begin a “conversation” about the issues.

Full story

February 19, 2014

Dave Camp to Unveil Tax Code Overhaul, Despite Long Odds

camp021914 445x293 Dave Camp to Unveil Tax Code Overhaul, Despite Long Odds

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp appears determined to take one last stab at making good on his promise to pass an overhaul of the nation’s tax code by the end of the 113th Congress.

On Wednesday, the Michigan Republican told GOP members of the committee that he would, next week, release a “comprehensive discussion draft” of a tax code rewrite, one that would make the tax code “simpler and fairer for families and employers, and … strengthen our economy — meaning higher wages and more take home pay for the American worker.”

“It is time to make a choice,” said Camp in his email to colleagues, obtained by CQ Roll Call. “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. Clearly, I choose the former.”

Though Camp’s decision to unveil his draft legislation marks a turning point for proponents of overhauling the tax code on both sides of the aisle, the political odds remain stacked against him. Full story

January 8, 2014

Anniversary of War on Poverty Splits GOP, Democrats

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Lee, second from left, gathered with other Democratic lawmakers and Robb, center, for an event to mark the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s declaration of the “war on poverty” on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats may have taken up income inequality as their election-year campaign platform, but Republicans appear determined to not let their counterparts own the subject.

To the annoyance of some Democrats, six members of the conservative Republican Study Committee held a news conference Wednesday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the “war on poverty” and to call for a different tactic to address indigence in this nation — one that is leaner on direct aid and more robust in job creation.

“While this war may have been launched with the best of intentions, it’s clear we’re now engaged in a battle of attrition that has left more Americans in poverty than at any other point in our nation’s history,” Rep. Steve Southerland II, R-Fla., said at the beginning of the news conference, noting that more than 46 million Americans live in poverty today. He did not point out, however, that even though the raw number of poverty-stricken people has increased, the percentage of poor Americans has fallen from 19 percent when President Lyndon B. Johnson announced his “unconditional war on poverty” in 1964 to about 15 percent today.

Southerland, the chairman of the RSC’s anti-poverty initiative, said that in the 50 years of the war on poverty, the government has spent more than $15 trillion on programs designed to combat those issues.

“Clearly, the big government ideas of the past need to be improved and aren’t working to the extent that they should,” Southerland said. ”We have a moral obligation to break the mold.”

Southerland said there were three pillars to fighting poverty: two-parent families, quality education and a stable job.

“Over the next year, we will be bringing interested members together to discuss conservative solutions that empower individuals and not the federal government,” he said. Full story

January 7, 2014

Jobless Benefits Split House GOP, Democrats

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Levin gave an impromptu press conference on jobless benefits in the Senate press gallery Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Ways and Means ranking Democrat Sander M. Levin wants an unemployment insurance extension, doesn’t want to pay for it, and wants it now.

With a handful of Senate Republicans voting with Democrats on Tuesday to advance legislation restoring lapsed unemployment insurance for 1.3 million Americans, Levin called on Speaker John A. Boehner to pass a temporary extension now and work out how to pay for it later.

“There is a present emergency,” Levin said during an impromptu press conference in the Senate press gallery. “This is not something theoretical.”

Levin said he wanted the House to pass the bill currently under consideration in the Senate, which would extend the expired unemployment insurance for three months without an offset, and then work toward a larger, longer-term solution that could include an offset. Full story

December 30, 2013

The House Year in Review

This year, doing the business of the People’s House was, at best, a struggle. It’s well-known that 2013 was, legislatively, the least productive session in congressional history. Leaders strained to get to 218 — a majority in the 435-seat House (in case you had no idea where the blog name came from). And there were some pretty notable news stories as a result of all this congressional dysfunction.

But as painful as the year was for members, covering the House was a pleasure, one which we here at 218 only had the honor of doing for about half the year.

In that short time, 218 — or “Goppers,” as we were formerly known, which rhymes with “Whoppers,” for all you still wondering about that — had more than a few favorite stories.

Among the labors of love, there was a piece about the 10 Republicans who could one day be speaker, a story on an internal August playbook that went out to House Republicans telling them to profess how they were fighting Washington, and a piece (in response to his “calves the size of cantaloupes” comment) asking the question: How do you solve a problem like Steve King? Full story

December 11, 2013

Little Evidence of Major GOP Revolt on Budget Deal

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Roskam said he thinks the budget deal will get “strong support” from the Republican Conference. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There wasn’t much of evidence of a major revolt against the budget deal brewing among House Republicans Wednesday morning, despite some opposition from those in the party’s right wing to an increase in fees on air travel and letting up even a little on the sequester spending cuts.

While some members spoke against the deal struck between Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., during a closed conference meeting, several senior Republicans and some of the party’s right wing told reporters they were inclined to back it and expect a majority of the conference to fall in line, despite opposition from groups such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action.

“Every member is going to make their own decision, but I think it was very well received and I think it’s a good accomplishment in divided government, and I think it’s going to receive very strong support,” said Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois, the GOP’s chief deputy whip. Full story

December 5, 2013

Pelosi Draws, Then Smudges, Lines in Sand on Budget

Gov Steve Beshear 6 120513 445x299 Pelosi Draws, Then Smudges, Lines in Sand on Budget

Pelosi, left, wants Republicans to agree to an extension of unemployment benefits. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wants unemployment insurance legislation to be passed this year, but she sent conflicting signals Thursday about what Democrats’ demands would be.

First, she seemed to be drawing a line in the sand by saying Democrats would not support any forthcoming budget agreement that doesn’t include an extension of unemployment benefits.

“We are making a very clear statement that we cannot, cannot support a budget agreement that does not include unemployment insurance in the budget or as a sidebar in order to move it along,” Pelosi said at a special hearing convened by the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee specifically on the subject of unemployment insurance.

Later she seemed to walk back those remarks during a Democratic leadership press conference, clarifying that she would not make her vote on a budget agreement contingent upon a one-year extension of emergency unemployment insurance aid.

“What I said was … as we go forward with the budget, I wanted to see unemployment insurance in there,” Pelosi said. “It could be separate from that as well.” Full story

December 3, 2013

Boehner Tells Senate to ‘Get Serious’ About Farm Bill, Budget Talks

boehner007 112113 445x291 Boehner Tells Senate to Get Serious About Farm Bill, Budget Talks

Boehner expressed frustration Tuesday about progress on both a farm bill and a budget conference. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

If Speaker John A. Boehner’s comments are any signal, talks between the House and Senate to craft a farm bill and budget are in trouble with less than two weeks left in the legislative session.

“We can’t defend the Democrats to the point of saying ‘yes,’” Boehner said Tuesday morning.

“It is time for the other chamber to get serious about getting this work done,” the Ohio Republican added.

Boehner argued that House Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla., had made “nothing but a good-faith effort” to reach consensus with Senate Democrats in a farm bill conference. And yet, with less than two legislative weeks left in this year’s session, a farm bill agreement doesn’t appear near. Full story

November 26, 2013

Proposed IRS Rules on Political Nonprofits Divides Parties

camp 292 102913 445x293 Proposed IRS Rules on Political Nonprofits Divides Parties

Camp criticized the Obama administration for a proposed IRS crackdown on “social welfare” groups. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The top Republican and Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and ranking member Sander M. Levin, D-Mich., don’t see eye to eye on a proposed IRS crackdown on political activity by 501(c)(4) “social welfare” groups.

While Levin called the new guidance a “good first step,” Camp had a simple message for the Obama administration: Don’t do it.

“This smacks of the Administration trying to shutdown potential critics,” Camp wrote in a release Tuesday. Camp was referring to critics of a political targeting scandal where the IRS was said to be giving additional scrutiny to applications from tea party groups for 501(c)(4) status — a reference to the section of the tax code that outlines which groups constitute this sort of tax-exempt status.

“There continues to be an ongoing investigation, with many documents yet to be uncovered, into how the IRS systematically targeted and abused conservative leaning groups,” Camp said. “Before rushing forward with new rules, especially ones that appear to make it harder to engage in public debate, I would hope Treasury would let all the facts come out first — something they could achieve by fully cooperating with Congress in the investigation.”

While Camp stops short of explicitly denouncing the proposed rules, which Roll Call wrote about in detail here, the guidance is likely to be another ongoing difference between Republicans and Democrats on the committee. Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 5:41 p.m.
Taxes

November 6, 2013

Levin: Camp’s Actions ‘Beneath the Ways and Means Committee’

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Rep. Sander M. Levin, right, and Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, center. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee blistered the Republican chairman Wednesday for, in his words, turning the panel into “a tool for opposition research” while failing to pass any legislation to boost the economy.

Rep. Sander M. Levin released the unusually scathing and personal letter to his fellow Michigander, Chairman Dave Camp, accusing him of using the committee as a bully pulpit for sabotaging the Obama administration.

“I am deeply troubled by the partisan turn this Committee has taken in recent months, having delayed — and in some cases completely abandoned — action on many issues of vital importance to American families and our economy while pressing ahead with a political agenda to undermine President Obama’s second term,” read the opening lines of Levin’s memo. Full story

October 17, 2013

Paul Ryan’s ‘No’ Vote Concerns Pelosi, Hoyer

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Ryan, left, walks to Wednesday’s House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On Thursday morning, the four leading budget conferees ate breakfast together and told reporters afterward that they were committed to engaging in good-faith negotiations on a whole host of pressing fiscal concerns between now and mid-December.

The House’s two top Democrats, however, are already concerned that those crucial talks could be tainted by the fallout over the government shutdown and the near-missed deadline to raise the debt ceiling.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., both expressed consternation Thursday about the overwhelming House GOP opposition to the Senate’s compromise legislation to reopen government extend the debt ceiling until early next year: 144 Republicans voted “no.”

“Everyone described it as, ‘Oh, it’s just a few, it’s 30-some,’” Pelosi said at her Thursday press briefing, referring to the number of House Republicans who wanted to tie government funding to defunding Obamacare. “But 62 percent of their caucus voted to default on the full faith and credit of the United States.”

“The significant majority of Republicans voted to keep government shut down and bypass [Oct.] 17th without fully paying our debts. I thought, ‘That’s not a good sign,’” Hoyer told CQ Roll Call in an interview.

But the center of their worries is House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., a leader of the bicameral, bipartisan budget conference who also voted “no” on the Senate deal.
Pelosi and Hoyer fear that Ryan’s unwillingness to vote for the Senate-negotiated fiscal package on Wednesday could portend an unwillingness to engage in the kind of frank, bipartisan compromise necessary to finalize a fiscal 2014 budget by the Dec. 13 deadline.

“I was very disappointed that Paul Ryan voted against keeping the government open and paying our bills. It was a tough vote, but this time he took a hard-line path,” Hoyer said. “I hope after he goes into negotiations with [Senate Budget Chairwoman] Patty Murray and others in the conference, he will take a more constructive, positive solution.”

Pelosi agreed, adding that she was also bothered by the “no” vote of Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., a leader on the budget conference as well.

“They did not vote for this bill that takes us to the table,” Pelosi said. “So, [it will be] interesting to see what that means, what is to be inferred.”

In a statement following the Wednesday night vote, Ryan called the bill “a missed opportunity.”

“To pay our bills today — and to make sure we can pay our bills tomorrow — we must make a down payment on the debt. Today’s legislation won’t help us reduce our fast-growing debt,” he continued. “In my judgment, this isn’t a breakthrough. We’re just kicking the can down the road.”

On Thursday, at the budget conference’s post-breakfast news conference, Ryan was asked to explain his reason for voting against the legislation, hashed out by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, R-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

“Look, we want to have smart deficit reduction. We want to grow the economy. We think the budget process is the way to do that,” Ryan said. “I put a statement out last night explaining exactly my concerns. That speaks for itself.”

He added, “I want to have a budget agreement that gets this debt and deficit under control. … And we’re going to try and figure out if we can find an agreement to do that.”

Of the four House Republicans who were appointed to serve on the budget conference, Ryan was not the only one to vote against the bill, despite GOP leadership’s encouragement to vote in favor. Conferees Diane Black of Tennessee and Tom Price of Georgia both voted “no,” while Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, an ally of Speaker John A. Boehner, backed the measure.

In an interview with CNN on Thursday morning, Cole appeared hopeful that a budget agreement was within reach.

“I actually think from a Republican standpoint, we’re on very strong ground here with the sequester being something honestly that both sides want to get rid of and with the president having put some entitlement reform in his budget. I can see the elements of a deal here and I hope we can keep working and find that deal,” he said.

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