The GOP has a tax plan - sort of.
House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., is set to unveil a tax-reform proposal today that's expected to include broad simplifications to the tax code, along with lower rates for higher incomes and surtaxes on certain types of income for the wealthy.
At the weekly GOP leadership news conference today, House Speaker John Boehner stopped short of endorsing the plan as the Republican Party's stance on taxes.
"You're getting a little bit ahead of yourself," Boehner said when asked if Camp's plan is the GOP plan. "We've talked about this and Chairman Camp's worked on this for years. It's time to have a public conversation about the issue of tax reform. And so I welcome the conversation."
The tax code is rife with "loopholes" - also known as incentives, deductions, write-offs - for manufacturing, oil production, investment income, etc., that make tax reform a complicated feat.
Asked about specifics, Boehner was in no mood to delve into the sticky politics of a topic filled with special-interest land mines for politicians to step on.
"I'd like to get all your takes on the subject," a reporter asked the lawmakers, including Boehner. "There's a tax on banks with over $500 billion [in] assets, changes to carried interest, which you guys have all opposed."
"Blah blah blah," Boehner replied, smiling.
"The idea of tax reform is to get our economy going again, provide better - more economic growth, more jobs and higher wages. The way you do that is you bring down rates. And to bring down rates, you clean out a lot of the garbage that's in there and the special-interest issues that are in there," Boehner said. "This is the beginning of that conversation."
Asked about the likelihood of a vote this year on Camp's bill and the potential for support from Senate Republican leaders, Boehner replied, laughing, "Ah, Jesus."
It was the fourth time he was asked to indicate where he or the GOP stood on tax reform.
"We're going to start the conversation today. Now, I expect the members and our constituents and the American people to take part in this conversation. I think it's a healthy conversation to have, and I look forward to it," he said.