House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp has been meeting with Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans on a potential summer vote on tax cuts.
Setting the stage on taxes could also help him steer his volatile Conference. On virtually every issue Boehner has struggled with since the GOP took control of the chamber, it has taken months of careful cajoling and hand-holding to convince his Members to back his policy plays in talks with Democrats. His most dug-in conservatives have often done so only after a lengthy show of support for hard-right policies.
Laying out a purely Republican plan on the Bush tax cuts and broader tax reform now could strengthen those efforts going into the lame duck, when Boehner might need every possible GOP vote to pass anything on taxes.
And although the move might irk some Republicans who have pushed for the chamber to tackle tax reform this year, not in 2013, it would equally be a concession to those in the party who have asked that leadership hold a vote on a tax-cut extension this year, before they head into the lame duck.
“They’re definitely pushing leadership to do something sooner rather than later,” said an aide to a rank-and-file Member. “Why would we wait until December to pass a bill to extend the Bush tax cuts?”
Further, it would buy the GOP a year during which it could come up with a solid tax reform proposal and could be a score for Camp, who has long said he is interested in using the expiring tax cuts as an opportunity to spur major changes to the tax code.
Still, the plan doesn’t come without risk. There is no telling who will control Congress and the White House come January. Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney supports an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, while President Barack Obama has said that he wants to limit the tax increases to wealthier taxpayers.
Boehner is expected to address this and other financial issues at a speech before the Peter G. Peterson Foundation Fiscal Summit today.
He said last week that the House will act to put pressure on the Senate.
“The House is going to act to extend the current tax rates. Whether we make them permanent or we extend them for a year, that debate’s still up in the air,” he said in an interview on CNBC.
If Congress does not act before Dec. 31, the tax cuts will expire, spiking tax rates for individuals and investors.