House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp spoke with Bloomberg TV’s Peter Cook today about his proposed overhaul of the federal tax code and its expected impact on U.S. economic growth and employment.
Camp told Bloomberg TV: “frankly many and most financial institutions are going to do better under this plan than they do now. And you know why they’re going to do better? Because the economy’s going to grow.”
Dave Camp: We’re Simplifying Taxes to Grow the Economy
MATT MILLER: House Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp has stirred up a hornet’s nest in Washington. The Michigan Republican unveiled a plan to overhaul the entire US tax code, dramatically reducing rates for businesses and individuals. The tradeoff? He also does away with a long list of popular tax breaks for special interest groups. That’s got Camp under fire from all directions. Chief Washington correspondent Peter Cook is standing by with the chairman on Capitol Hill. Peter?
PETER COOK: Matt, thanks very much. I’m joined with the man with the tax plan. House Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp joining me now. And appreciate you taking this time out. And I got to ask you, you had to know putting this plan out in a midterm election year you’d get fire from all sides. You’re getting it. Why’d you do this? Is this a kamikaze mission?
REP. Dave Camp (R-MI): No. Look, our economy isn’t growing. I’m not going to accept 2 percent growth as the new normal. I’m not going to accept a minimum wage economy, and I’m not going to accept the fact that we’re not creating jobs. Kids are living at home because they can’t get out on their own. So we need to grow this economy. We need to create jobs. One way to do that is through pro-growth tax reform. Also, we need to be the party of ideas. We need to move issues forward. And this is a big one that could help – help people, help jobs and really make America a much better place.
COOK: The big picture here for this plan, you’ve reduced the number of tax brackets from three, two, depending how you to look at, from seven. You also reduce the top rate both for the corporate side and for the individual side, yet you do away with a lot of these tax breaks or at least limit them, ones on the books right now. You’ve got industry folks, you’ve got Republicans and some Democrats taking aim at you over some of those changes. Are you ready for that?
Dave Camp: Look, we have a lot of Republicans and Democrats supporting the fact that we’re moving forward on this. The top rate in the ’80s in America for business was the lowest in the world. Now we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. So we go from 35 to 25. And you’re right. Ninety-nine percent of taxpayers will be at 25 percent or less. I considered 99 percent an A when I was in school. So look, we’re moving forward. And to do that, what we do is there are tradeoffs. We reform our tax code, do away with a lot of complexity.
We get rid of 228 provisions, reduce the code by 25 percent. Ninety-five percent of Americans will not be itemizing. That’s many small business owners as well. And so because we simplify and because we lower rates, we actually grow the economy by 20 percent. And if we can get 20 percent growth in the economy, that also translates into almost 2 million jobs. And look, jobs and the economy, that’s the number-one issue facing Americans. And Americans want us to do something about it. So this draft proposal is one way to do something about it, and it’s pro-growth reform.
COOK: And it’s also a sure way to get tax lobbyists in this town running all over the city trying to undermine your efforts. You’ve got individual industries here taking aim. Let me talk about one specific in your plan. This tax on the largest financial institutions in the country. Sounds an awful lot like what the president proposed after the financial crisis, the financial crisis tax. Tell me the justification for targeting an individual industry like this.
DAVID CAMP: I think it affects about six banks, but the – the thing is financial —
COOK: Four or five insurance companies as well.
Dave Camp: But look, they are going from a 35 percent rate to a 25 percent rate. And the financial sector there aren’t a lot of provisions, loopholes, et cetera, to close because there aren’t many. So they’re getting a tremendous tax break, and I think it’s important there be a tradeoff. In order to pay for and have revenue neutral tax reform, if you’re going to lower rates by that much – and frankly many and most financial institutions are going to do better under this plan than they do now. And you know why they’re going to do better? Because the economy’s going to grow. The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation says we’re going to get growth. And if we get growth, everybody does better. As President Kennedy said, a rising tide lifts all boats.
COOK: Eleven banking trade associations, even the smaller guys who aren’t hit by this, joining together saying this is a bad idea. You’re going after lenders.
Dave Camp: If 11 groups are against this, I’m doing okay. Look, this bill has broad support. And you know what? Let’s see what the American people have to say about it. People are hungering for jobs. Businesses are hungering for a simpler, flatter code. We cannot compete internationally because we have an outdated international tax system. We reformed that. We actually allow those dollars to be brought back from overseas to be invested here in the United States. Some of that investment’s going to be in infrastructure. So there are a lot of good things in this tax reform bill. But look, no bill is perfect. That’s why it’s a discussion draft. We’re open to hearing from people. We started walking through the tax code today with Republicans and Democrats on the Ways & Means Committee and we’re going to move forward on this.
COOK: The idea of diverting some of that money for infrastructure, some of the overseas income that would be coming back, that’s again an idea the president has put forward on the table. You also have higher taxes here. The surtax on the wealthiest Americans. It sounds an awful lot like some of what we’ve heard from President Obama. Was that a conscientious effort on your part to try and draw in the administration and Democrats? Are you becoming a populist like President Obama?
Dave Camp: Look, I don’t think infrastructure investment is necessarily a Democrat issue. A lot of Republicans want to see the Highest Trust Fund get funded. And if we can fund the Highest Trust Fund as we do for a few years, that allows us to look at some permanent solutions. Because the gas tax is not providing enough. Look, we don’t raise the gas tax. We don’t ask Americans to contribute more. This