Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), argued the plan is part of what the GOP contends is a failed record on the economy.
“First it was a stimulus bill that led to fewer jobs. Then it was a health care bill that led to higher costs. Now it’s a ‘framework’ for corporate tax ‘reform’ that isn’t focused on protecting jobs, small businesses and families. This isn’t a record of success,” Stewart said.
Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck struck a similar cord, raising concerns that the plan will hurt small businesses.
“Tax reform should encourage entrepreneurs, not punish the millions of small businesses that pay taxes at individual income rates. This outline continues to pick winners and losers at the expense of a more competitive tax code and lower rates,” Buck said.
K Street also reacted coolly to the plan, raising its own concerns about the political nature of the outline.
“I suspect it will encourage Congressional Republicans to be even more aggressive on tax reform,” said Bruce Thompson, a tax expert with Van Scoyoc Associates. “I don’t think they want to sit idly by and let the president steal the tax reform banner.”
Others questioned why the administration would pursue corporate tax reform as a political issue at all.
“I have never thought corporate tax reform was an issue with a lot of political zip to it,” said Kenneth Kies, the managing director of the Federal Policy Group. “The average voter doesn’t care about the corporate tax reform.”
When asked how important the proposals could be in the lame duck session this year, Kies said that will “depend on whether or not Obama gets a second term. If he doesn’t, this will be just another footnote in history, just like all the other tax proposals.” He added, “If he does get elected, this could be the first step.”
One notable exception to the GOP attacks was House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (Mich.), who has begun discussions with Geithner and Finance Chairman Max Baucus (Mont.) on tax reform.
In an measured statement, Camp said that while he is “pleased to see the administration’s proposal adopts many of the same principles of reform that House Republicans have championed,” there remain significant differences to work out.
“While this is a good step by the administration, I will borrow from the president’s own words to Congress from just yesterday: ‘Don’t stop here. Keep going,’” he added.
Democrats largely praised the proposal.
“The president’s proposal would lower the business tax rate by broadening the base through elimination of those loopholes that distort business decision making,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said.
“It also goes hand-in-hand with House Democrats’ Make It In America comprehensive jobs plan by providing incentives for manufacturing and research that will help us retain our role as the world’s innovation leader,” the Maryland Democrat added.
Ways and Means ranking member Sander Levin (D-Mich.) was equally supportive, arguing the outline “put[s] the focus of corporate tax reform where it needs to be: on promoting investment, job creation and especially manufacturing in the United States, not overseas.”