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PD Editorial: GOP even says 'no' to one of its own

  • Asked about a tax reform plan crafted by one of his party's congressional leaders, House Speaker John Boehner replied, "Blah, blah, blah, blah." (Associated Press)

The party of no.

The nickname is practically synonymous with the GOP after Republicans in Washington have rejected practically every Obama administration proposal while offering few alternatives of their own.

They’ve got a golden opportunity to refute that pejorative moniker, but party leaders are instead turning their backs on a credible tax reform plan crafted by the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Asked about the proposal, House Speaker John Boehner proclaimed: “Blah, blah, blah, blah.” His Senate counterpart, Mitch McConnell, said there’s no hope for passing tax reform this year. “I don’t see how we can,” he said.

Yet another no. Yet another missed opportunity.

Is there anything more frustrating than trying to decipher income tax returns? Americans collectively spend six billion hours a year on tax forms, and we spend upward of $165 billion on software and expert help with tax filings.

The plan unveiled a week ago by Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, whose committee is responsible for tax policy, would make collections more efficient and the code less perplexing.

His plan collapses the present seven personal income tax brackets to two, plus a 10 percent surcharge on incomes of more than $450,000. It substantially increases the standard deduction, eliminates scores of loopholes and lowers the corporate rate to 25 percent from 35 percent.

There’s a lot to like about Camp’s plan. There’s also plenty of room for debate — if our elected leaders were so inclined.

Camp’s proposal is revenue-neutral, according to an assessment by the Congressional Budget Office, so it would have no immediate impact on the deficit. Should those at the top of the income scale sacrifice more?

Some provisions would inordinately affect California and other states with higher taxes and real estate prices. For instance, the deduction for state and local taxes would be eliminated and the mortgage-interest deduction would be limited to $500,000. But Camp also would raise the standard deduction to $11,000 for individuals and $22,000 for couples and increase the per-child tax credit to $1,500. Would that offset the lost deductions?

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