Business groups turn on Camp as tax reform gets real

Business groups turn on Camp as tax reform gets real

It took years for Washington’s powerhouse trade groups to elicit a real tax reform proposal from Congress — and only minutes to begin bringing it down.

The immediate blowback from industry groups to Rep. Dave Camp’s (R-Mich.) proposal illustrates how much harder tax reform becomes when details are put to paper.

It also reveals bigger truths about lobbying in Washington, like how advocates working toward the same broad goal will quickly go on the attack when it comes time to protect their favored tax breaks.

“We could probably send out a press release every day on something in the tax reform bill that we are not necessarily enamored with,” said James Ballantine, chief lobbyist for the American Bankers Association.

Banking advocates and a range of other groups have acknowledged that overhauling the tax code is a massive endeavor, and commended Camp for even taking it on.

But that doesn’t mean they have to like the results.

“I don’t think you could find any industry or human being walking the streets that would say tax reform isn’t needed,” Ballantine said. “Getting there will be difficult.”

For bankers, the problems with Camp’s plan include a tax on the financial institutions with more than $500 billion in assets. The banking industry is also miffed that he left alone a tax break for credit unions, a provision banks say leaves them at a competitive disadvantage.

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