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September 22, 2011

Supercommittee tackles taxes

The congressional supercommittee's chairmen made it clear Thursday they disagree on the specifrics of tax policy--but they also indicated willingness to seek common ground.

At the 12-member panel's latest hearing, the focus was on taxes. Co-chair Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said "We have to address both spending and revenue."

She called revenue "just one side of the ledger, but it is an important one."

Co-chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, was more reluctant to accept that view. But he suggested that corporate tax rates need to be changed.

"There is something fundamentally wrong with our tax code," he said, when firms in competing nations pay lower rates.

"We should seize the opportunity and correct this for the sake of both bringing in more revenue through economic growth and addressing our job crisis at the same time," he said.

Murray would not get that specific about the corporate tax rate.

But, she said, "I'm interested in hearing about the loopholes and tax expenditures my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have agreed are too often wasteful and market distorting, about our broadening the base and lowering the rate, boosting the economy and bringing in additional revenue, and about keeping our tax code truly progressive."

After the supercommittee hearings from tax experts Thursday, its next public session is scheduled Oct. 4 with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The panel is to report by Nov. 23 its recommendations for cutting at least $1.2 trillion from spending over the next 10 years.

Congress then has until Dec. 23 to vote on the plan. 

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