December 16, 2013

THE HILL: Tax Reformers See Hope In Deal.

Congressional tax writers, left reeling after a string of setbacks to tax reform, say ratification of the budget pact could give them new momentum next year.

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) have seen their efforts stymied and criticized in recent months.

But the budget deal struck this week includes no new revenues from ending tax breaks, giving them free reign to pursue full-scale rewrite of the tax code.

“Provisions that were not part of the budget are going to be part of tax reform,” Baucus told The Hill this week. “Oh yeah, it very much helps.”

Plus, the mere fact that House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) were able to shake hands on a agreement indicates that the parties can still work together on tough issues.

Tax writers also argue that, by setting top-line spending numbers for the next two years, the deal could shift Congress out of crisis mode and give other meaningful issues time and space to proceed.

I’m not sure that’s good news. Also, it’s “free rein,” not “free reign.” Unless you’re a king.