Camp Plan Puts Nail In Tax Reform Coffin For This Year, And Next, And...
It had almost no chance of being enacted anyway, but the comprehensive tax reform proposal that will be revealed by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) this afternoon kills even the very limited possibility that something will happen on taxes this year.
It also very likely kills the chance of tax reform in 2015 and 2016.
The reason is simple: The plan includes tax increases on key Republican constituencies. No matter how rational that might be from a numerical point of view, that's not something Camp's colleagues will be able even to tacitly approve let alone actually vote for before either the next congressional election this November or the next presidential election in 2016.
In fact, Camp's heir-apparent at ways and means -- House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) -- and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), the two most important people on tax reform other than Camp himself, both made it clear today before the Camp plan was formally revealed that they (and, by extension, House Republicans) are not close to being ready to deal with tax increases any time soon. Given that Ryan will likely take over from Camp next year, the very clear message he sent this morning was that the prospects for a tax increase will be different when he's chairman.
Comprehensive tax reform will take at least as long to enact this time around as it did in the 1980s. That process, which took three years to complete, was far simpler than what's ahead this time because (1) taxes were not the wedge issue then that they are today; (2) the 1980s effort was understood to be revenue-neutral whereas this one may well have to increase taxes overall; and (3) social media, radio talk shows and MSNBC and Fox were not influential in Washington in the 1980s.
Camp is very unlikely even to get a vote on his proposal this year. The GOP leadership may allow him to hold hearings, but there's little likelihood Republican members will be asked to vote on the bill unless the tax increases are eliminated. That would be a huge slap in the face to Camp that can be avoided just by keeping a bill off the House floor. The same will likely be true in 2015 and 16.
That means that the tax reform clock doesn't start to run until 2017. If it then takes three years to complete the process, a bill doesn't get enacted until 2019 at the earliest.