Can Lame Ducks Baucus, Camp Achieve a Tax Overhaul?

Baucus and Camp are both staring down their legacies atop the Senate and House tax-writing committees. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With Sen. Max Baucus’ decision to retire in 2014, the two committee chairmen in charge of an uncertain comprehensive tax rewrite effort are now officially lame ducks.

Ken Spain, a former congressional aide who served as communications director of the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2010, helpfully pointed out a small but interesting development. “Potential policy implications for Baucus retirement: Two tax-writing chairmen won't hold gavel in two years. Better shot at tax overhaul?” tweeted Spain, who is now a spokesman for the Private Equity Growth Capital Council, a lobbying organization closely monitoring the progress of a possible tax overhaul.

Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., is not retiring next year. But his tenure as Ways and Means chairman is term-limited by House GOP rules, which means both he and Baucus are staring down a career deadline to move a tax bill through their respective committees and to the House and Senate floors for consideration. The two chairmen are attempting to coordinate their efforts.

The process was already complicated enough, both politically and substantively, and it is not yet clear if the lame-duck chairmanships of Baucus and Camp will further burden their bid for tax policy changes or perhaps liberate them and bolster the effort’s prospects.

"At a national level, I will continue to work on simplifying and improving the tax code,” Baucus said as a part of his lengthy statement confirming his retirement plans.