The stalemate on Capitol Hill over whether to increase the $14.2 trillion U.S. debt limit isn’t affecting the debate over how to overhaul the tax code, said Representative Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican.

Despite the debate over the debt limit, I am encouraged about the bipartisanship and progress that has been made in the area of tax reform,” the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman said today in a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. “We will need to see more of it to see it across the finish line.”

His comments were made two weeks after Representative Sander Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on Camp’s committee, said the panel’s progress could be “washed away” if Congress fails to raise the debt limit by Aug. 2.

Camp spoke in vague terms about what he would like to see in a rewrite of the nation’s tax laws. He said an overhaul should eliminate tax expenditures that benefit certain groups without resulting in a net increase in taxes.

“The tax code should not pick winners or losers,” he said. “It should not be a tool of industrial policy.”


‘A Framework’
Camp said businesses shouldn’t look at a tax overhaul through the “prism of one provision.”

“What we’re trying to do is set up a framework to have the discussion about how do we get rates as low as possible and have the most transparent effective rate possible?” he said. “The debate is going to be OK; the political consensus is we’re going to have X provision. What does that do to the rates?”

Camp and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, have said they would like to lower the top tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent currently. They haven’t suggested which tax breaks, such as the mortgage interest deduction, they would eliminate or curb to pay for lower rates.

Camp said he supports a repatriation holiday, in which U.S. multinational companies could return offshore profits to the U.S. at a low tax rate. Such a holiday is backed by companies including Apple Inc., Google Inc. and Pfizer Inc. Camp said he wants to discuss repatriation as part of a broader tax overhaul instead of as a separate piece of legislation.

“I’m for repatriation,” he said. “But I don’t want to just do something that will be helpful for a few years. I’d like to see us change the structure.”


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