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President Barack Obama’s plan to overhaul the corporate tax code was met with near universal derision from Republicans, who dismissed the framework as nothing more than an election-year ploy.
The outline, unveiled this morning by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, would eliminate dozens of politically unpopular tax loopholes while lowering some corporate rates in what the Obama administration says is an effort to make American companies more competitive.
“The rising fortunes of emerging economies offer tremendous economic opportunities for the United States. But if we are going to be able to take advantage of those opportunities, we have to encourage companies — both American companies and foreign companies — to design and create and build things here,” Geithner told reporters.
But Republicans panned the plan —which was released as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) began rolling out his own presidential campaign platform on taxes — as little more than a political document.
Senate Finance ranking member Orrin Hatch (Utah) — who may be content for tax reform to wither on the vine this year in the hope that he becomes Finance chairman in 2013 — slammed the proposal as “a set of bullet points designed more for the campaign trail than an actual blueprint for fixing our tax code.”
Hatch went on to argue the proposal is “profoundly disappointing in its lack of detail” and that, “this so-called framework is murky, ill-defined and contradictory to the goal of reducing complexity and making our tax code more efficient.”
Romney also criticized Obama’s tax plan.
“He is proposing today a corporate tax plan which I understand sounds like he’s lowering taxes but in fact he’s raising taxes — raising taxes on businesses by hundreds of millions of dollars,” Romney said today during a campaign stop in Chandler, Ariz., USA Today reported.
The administration insists the proposal is a serious effort to begin working on corporate tax reform, but there were some signs of politics. For instance, although the plan offers few specifics, it pointedly calls for the elimination of the “carried interest” loophole, which allows extremely wealthy Americans to pay a low, 15 percent tax rate.
Romney has acknowledged paying that rate — which is significantly lower than most American workers pay — and Democrats have hammered him over the issue for weeks.
Additionally, the administration did not inform Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) of the plan until this morning, well after details began to leak to the press. And, in a rare moment of bluntness, a senior administration official acknowledged, “Sometimes we tell them an hour before we tell [the media], sometimes we tell [the media] an hour before them.”
GOP leaders also reacted critically.