I am indebted to Stan for much good advice and many kindnesses over a long career and today for chance to express a few thoughts on the tax reform.
In retrospect, I learned a few things about tax reform as a kid in my dad’s workshop that might be good to recall at this point in the debate. I would tend to start something with only a general idea of where I was headed. He’d put a hand on my shoulder and say, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing it right.” With time, I came to realize that those nine words carried many meanings. They came in an encouraging tone while saying --
- Have a clear and realistic goal
- Be careful – don’t hurt yourself or others
- Use the tools properly
- Don’t rush – measure twice; cut once
And, having had kids of my own in the workshop, I know these rules also meant: “Don’t distract me from what really has to get done, if you are just fooling around.”
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.
As my column from today's Roll Call explains, if you've been thinking that everything will be settled in the lame duck session of Congress that's ahead, think again...and again...and again. Would you believe that nothing will be settled?
Expect Less, Not More, in Lame-Duck Session
By Stan Collender
Roll Call Contributing Writer
April 17, 2012, Midnight
I’m always surprised that federal budget watchers learn so little from even the very recent past.
After almost two years of continuing expectations that the next budget-related opportunity is going to result in the “big deal,” we should all know and admit by now that when it comes to federal spending, revenues, the deficit and the national debt, dreams hardly ever come true.
I'm wading into Bruce's and Pete's territory here: Because of the failure of the anything-but-super committee to come up with a plan that included it, I don't see how "tax reform" can be enacted and start to be implemented until 2014 at the earliest.
And even that may be overly optimistic.
That's not to say that some tax changes won't be discussed and enacted before then. Contrary to what many are saying, I actually expect some changes to be adopted by the end of this year, that is, within the next four weeks. For example, one way or another an extension of the payroll tax cut seems particularly likely to happen before Congress leaves for Christmas.
But however important they might be, changes like that are tinker toys compared to the comprehensive tax reform that is now very much on the wish list of many corporations, individuals, lobbyists, associations, academics, and pundits. You know the one: the plan that would lower the overall tax rate while eliminating many of the existing deductions and credits in the code.