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Baucus and Camp at Economic Club in Washington

Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) made a joint appearance on July 18 at the Economic Club in Washington, D.C.

At the meeting, Camp and Baucus were asked whether the tax reform bill must start in the House or Senate. Camp replied that the Constitution requires tax bills to be commenced in the House Ways and Means Committee. However, Baucus noted that the tax bill can commence in the Senate and then be included as substitute language in a previously-passed House bill.

Baucus noted, "We agree on the result." Camp also affirmed the principle and stated, "We both agree that whatever avenue it takes to get this done, we're willing to try it."

Baucus and Camp emphasized there is agreement on two goals. First, there should be a significant reduction in the top tax rates. Second, the reduction must be achieved through a broadening of the tax base.

Baucus indicated that the Senate bill is likely to generate additional tax revenue. While the House bill advanced by Camp is promised to be revenue neutral, the final decision on revenue will be made in a conference committee.

Baucus and Camp will continue their national campaign of meetings with voters with a joint appearance next week in Philadelphia. Both claim that they will be producing tax bills before the end of the year.

On July 16, Baucus also addressed the proposals submitted by members of the Senate Finance Committee. He had requested specific recommendations from all of the Senators. Washington media had hoped that he would release the tax positions taken by these Senators.

Baucus stated, "We are totally protecting confidentiality. I had to. It's very important."

He was responding to the concerns by numerous Senators. If their specific suggestions for tax changes were made public, they would be subject to very substantial political pressure.

Editor's Note: The second principle of "base broadening" is Washington language for reducing itemized deductions. Because mortgage interest, retirement plans and medical deductions produce large tax savings, they are the probable candidates for some level of reduction. With the popularity of these deductions, both Baucus and Camp expect major fireworks when they publish their bills this fall.

House Votes on Healthcare Mandate Delay

Following an announcement by the Treasury Department of a one year delay in the employer healthcare mandate, the House held hearings and also voted on two healthcare bills.

On Wednesday, July 17, 2013, a House committee held a hearing to allow Treasury representatives to discuss the one year delay in the business mandate under the Affordable Care Act. Later that day, the House passed by a 264-161 bipartisan vote the Authority for Mandate Delay Act (H.R. 2667). The bill sponsor was Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR). He stated, "Mr. President, we are glad you now recognize that the employer mandate is a burden and is hurting job creators and is hurting folks across this country."

In a second bipartisan vote of 251-154, the House also passed the Fairness for American Families Act (H.R. 2668). This provision would delay the individual Affordable Care Act mandate for one year. Bill sponsor Todd Young (R-IN) stated, "As a matter of fairness, it's not right to provide tax relief to business without affording the same sort of relief to hard-working individual Americans and to their families."

House Ways and Means Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) emphasized that the White House delay was helpful for employers. He stated, "The Administration determined that a delay of employer responsibility requirements was necessary in order to insure efficient implementation of the tax code, so exercised its authority. Longstanding administrative relief [has been] used by administrations of both parties for many years to grant transition relief."

Editor's Note: The House bills on the Affordable Care Act are not likely to be voted on in the Senate.

Published July 19, 2013

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