Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) walks toward the Senate chamber. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images )
WASHINGTON -- The chairmen of key congressional committees said their bipartisan efforts to overhaul the tax code are on track and still very doable despite the partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill on many issues.
"Tax reform can't be about politics," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said in a joint opinion article Monday in the Wall Street Journal.
"It has to be about the people we serve, about boosting the economy, about creating jobs in Montana, Michigan and across America," he said. "It has to be about restoring some trust in the process of government."
President Obama and Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress have called for the first comprehensive tax reform legislation since the 1980s. But the issue is complex and the path to a deal difficult given the lobbyists and interest groups expected to fight to preserve deductions and loopholes in the code.
Baucus and Camp said they have been working together the past two years to lay the groundwork for bipartisan legislation. During that time, the two have personally met every week Congress has been in session to chart a course for what they said was a joint goal.
They noted they have held more than 50 hearings and are preparing in the coming weeks to release proposals and solicit feedback.
"So while we cannot provide you every detail of the bill today, we can commit to you that we are writing tax reform bills," Baucus and Camp wrote.
"We'll look to close loopholes like those used by some lawyers and celebrities to avoid paying the payroll tax on much of their earnings," they said. "We'll make sure that companies can't avoid paying tax on income they earn in the U.S. by pretending that they earned it in an overseas tax haven instead."
As heads of Congress' tax-writing committees, Baucus and Camp said they would be guided by three principles.
They said they want to simplify the code so "regular families will be on a level playing field with those who can afford high-price tax advisers."
Baucus and Camp also said they want to level the field for companies, lowering the corporate rate, which is the highest in the world, so U.S. firms can compete with rivals abroad.
And they said they want changes in the tax code to ensure "parity for small businesses."
"We will work to ensure that any tax reform plan does as much to help a small family business create jobs and compete as it does for a large company," Baucus and Camp wrote.
The lawmakers said they are committed to getting tax reform completed.
"We know we face some fierce headwinds," they said.
"People from across the spectrum are trying to turn tax reform into a political weapon, which could end up killing any chance at success," Baucus and Camp continued. "We can't let that happen"