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Budget Talks Complicate Tax Reform

Budget Talks Complicate Tax Reform

The top congressional tax writers are now facing just the latest wrinkle in their efforts to rewrite the code: a budget conference.  So writes blogger Bernie Becker at The Hill newspaper.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) both have said they plan to put pen to paper on tax reform plans within the next several months. 

But in the meantime, a slew of budget conferees will be sitting down to try to reconcile the radically different House and Senate budgets by Dec. 13, as part of a deal struck to end the recent fiscal standstill.

And while Camp and Baucus put on happy faces this week and suggested they would be resources for the budget conferees, they also made clear the newest fiscal committee wouldn’t slow down their work on rewriting the code for the first time in more than a quarter century.

“I'll be working with all members of that committee to help with the tax components and also the entitlement components,” Baucus told Bloomberg Television. “But at the same time, we're going to be working ahead in a parallel way to move on tax reform.”

Meanwhile, Camp told reporters that he was ready to concentrate more of his efforts on tax reform, after the government funding fight that enveloped Washington this month.

“I’m looking forward. I’m not looking back on the last two weeks. Do we really need to revisit those again?” Camp said Wednesday.

“If the budget conference isn’t successful, we can always fall back on regular order,” the Michigan Republican added.

Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have so far been tight-lipped about what sort of an agreement they hope to reach — saying, for instance, that they hope conferees can find “common ground.”

The conference committee could go so far as to put tax reform instructions in place, though Murray also said this week that the panel’s goals were narrower than the failed 2011 supercommittee.

On the flip side, conferees could decide that the revenue side of the two budgets, which are hundreds of billions of dollars apart, are irreconcilable and just leave taxes out of their agreement.

Both Baucus and Camp have said that, while they’re pressing ahead on tax reform in the committee process, they’ll also latch on to any path they can find to get legislation over the finish line.

The Hill “On the Money” blog at: http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/domestic-taxes/329395-budget-conference-complicates-tax-code-reformers-job-#ixzz2iMwVyuYS

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