Paul Ryan could chair tax-writing committee in next Congress

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) wants to serve as the next chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the powerful tax-writing committee, when the next Congress is seated in 2015, according to Politico:

Paul Ryan will seek to become the next chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, a move that would bring instant star power to the cause of tax reform while complicating his presidential ambitions.

The House Budget Committee chairman intends to replace Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) when term-limit restrictions force Camp to step down in 2015, Ryan told The Wall Street Journal.

“That is my plan,” he said in an interview with the newspaper.
The move would give Ryan, his party’s 2012 vice presidential candidate and perhaps the most popular Republican in Congress, a prime perch to pursue his long-standing interest in tax and entitlement reform. That could bring a jolt of energy to the push to overhaul the tax code for the first time in a generation, an effort led by Camp that has foundered amid widespread ambivalence among rank-and-file lawmakers.

If Ryan takes on tax reform in earnest, the move may also signal Ryan is not planning on running for president in 2016.

Ryan was term-limited from serving as chairman of the Budget Committee after the last Congress, but he was given a waiver that allowed him to stick around for one more term.

Camp could also seek a waiver ahead of the next Congress, but, as Politico noted, the tax reform overhaul he’s been working on with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) hasn’t been well received. What’s more, Baucus is retiring and someone else will take his place in that role.

This is an important development. Fresh off a budget agreement with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Ryan said this weekend that House Ways and Means Committee, of which he is a member, would be moving on tax reform in the first quarter of 2014, though, he gave no hint as to what that could look like. Murray noted that the divide on tax reform is what to do with new revenues.

So, not only is the devil in the details of any potential tax reform deal, but also whether or not new tax dollars will be used to pay down debt or finance new spending. That’s a big sticking point for all sides, not to mention that lobbyists will no doubt fight hard to keep preferential loopholes for their industries or clients.

Ryan’s most recent budget — The Path to Prosperity — did propose some major tax reforms. It would have established a two-tier income tax system, repealed the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), and reduced the corporate tax rate. Critics said Ryan’s tax reform proposal was light on details.

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), one of Ryan’s lieutenants, is presumed to be next in line to chair the House Budget Committee in the next Congress. He currently serves as vice-chair of the committee.

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