StanCollender'sCapitalGainsandGames Washington, Wall Street and Everything in Between

tax reform politics

Posted by Stan Collender

Here’s something you haven’t heard from anyone else: Tax reform is at least three years away...and even that may be optimistic. In fact, I'm not expecting a serious tax reform effort until 2017.

Note that I said "effort" rather than a bill. Comprehensive tax reform is far more likely to be enacted towards the end of the decade than it is to be in place before the 2016 presidential election.

Yes, I know that absolutely is not the common wisdom. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) has been saying all year that he wants to put tax reform on a fast track so it can be enacted this year. Just a few months ago House Republicans were threatening to make a process for tax reform the price of their supporting the next increase in the federal debt ceiling. And when Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (R-MT)  (D-MT) announced that he wasn’t going to run for re-election, there was a flurry of speculation about how that decision would make tax reform more likely to happen this year.

Posted by Clint Stretch
As I watch the debate in Washington around “tax reform,” I can’t help but think of this conversation between Humpty Dumpty and Alice in Through the Looking Glass:
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."  
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - - that's all."
We are having a Through the Looking Glass moment in Washington as everyone throws around the words “tax reform” while assigning their own meanings to them.  Ironically, this is all occurring while we seek to avoid the real possibility that our Humpty-Dumpy budget could fall off right off the cliff.

Posted by Clint Stretch

On Tuesday, the electorate will get to the end of a very long political process, during which they have been promised a better tax system without any real discussion about the sacrifices such a system would demand.

Regardless of the winner of the presidential election, the expectations of the typical voter are pretty much the same. Here’s what I think the voters have heard on taxes and, therefore, what they think will happen in the next Congress:

Posted by Clint Stretch
Like Governor Romney, I have raised a number of kids.  One of the things I learned to do with them was to listen to the silence.  When it got too quiet upstairs, when a good friend’s name vanished from conversation, or when the cheery reports about a wonderful teacher stopped, I knew something important had happened, and it was time to tune in. 
My liberal friends are frustrated that Governor Romney will not identify the tax benefits he plans to repeal in order to lower individual tax rates by 20 percent.  I am not frustrated.  In the debate, Governor Romney gave us some solid guideposts to understanding what details are in the silence.  The specifics necessary to create an economic model might be missing, but the principles and vision he outlined give us substantial clues – fuel enough to feed the exercise of common sense.

Posted by Stan Collender

One of the last things the House did last week before leaving Washington for five weeks was to spend time and energy defining legislative masturbation.

At least that's the inescapable conclusion when you read H.R. 6169, the "Pathway to Job Creation through a Simpler, Fairer Tax Code Act of 2012."

That bill, which passed 232-189, supposedly would set up a fast-track process for tax reform by requiring the House Ways and Means Committee to report a bill by April 30, 2013. The full House would then be required to vote on whatever the committee approved within a month.

This was total nonsense and an absolute waste of the House's time and taxpayer money. Even if H.R. 6169 were considered and passed by the Senate (which the leadership knew would never happen), there's no way that a comprehensive tax reform bill will be adopted that quickly in the House or, as the House-passed legislation requires, that a final bill will be sent to the White House by the end of the summer 2013.

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