Dave Camp: My Focus Is Tax Reform, Not the Senate

House Ways and Means Chairman is too busy trying to overhaul the tax code to run for Michigan's open senate seat.

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FILE - In this Feb. 17, 2012 file photo, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. David Camp, R-Mich. walks to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold most of President Barack Obama’s health care law puts the Internal Revenue Service at the center of the debate, renewing questions about whether the agency is capable of policing the health care decisions of millions of Americans while also collecting the taxes needed to fund the federal government.

Don't wait on House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp to jump into the race for the open Senate seat occupied by Michigan Sen. Carl Levin – he's too busy trying to overhaul the tax code, he said this morning.

Speaking at a press breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Camp said that "I'm not taking a serious look at the race" because "I'm pretty busy." He added: "I've got a big job. I'm committed to tax reform and I'm going to work very hard to make it reality."

He noted that GOP Rep. Mike Rogers and former Michigan secretary of state Terri Lynd are looking at the run. Another Michigan House member, Justin Amash, is also reportedly eyeing the race.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

Camp spoke extensively about his hopes for tax reform (he wants it to be revenue neutral and says it has to include provisions for repatriation of money from overseas).

On the question of Obama's budget, he declined to follow National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden in attacking President Obama as a menace to seniors and their Social Security. Instead he followed the current GOP playbook of praising Obama for taking "a few steps forward in terms of entitlement reform," calling it a "positive step," and saying that while a "grand bargain" probably isn't possible this year – because attempts at grand bargains "haven't worked very well" – a smaller "downpayment" on dealing with entitlements would be just fine. Like, for example, doing "chained CPI" for Social Security since the president and Republicans now all agree on it.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]

This again illustrates the problem of Obama adopting chained CPI as administration policy rather than keeping it as a bargaining option. He and his spokespeople can say all they want that it must be part of a package with new tax revenues, but he has given the GOP a very easy opening to try to break it off rhetorically by itself.

And as for Walden's comments – he said Wednesday that Obama was "trying to balance this budget on the backs of seniors" – give Camp and the rest of the GOP leaders a few months. It's still an odd numbered year. Once election time comes around, more Republicans will be singing Walden's tune. If you doubt it, remember that Republicans campaign against Obamacare's Medicare cuts in even numbered years and then incorporate them into their budgets in odd numbered years.

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