July 02, 2013
Washington insiders coming to St. Paul for ideas on tax policy
U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., left, and U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chair powerful tax committees in each chamber.
The end game is uncertain, but the opening move for the latest congressional tax reform effort will be made in St. Paul.
On Monday morning, U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich. -- who chair powerful tax committees in each chamber -- will visit the 3M Co. in Maplewood and Baldinger Bakery, a commercial baking operation on St. Paul's East Side.
Both legislators have been outspoken about the need to simplify the U.S. tax code, and the stop in St. Paul kicks off a series of visits to listen to people's ideas on the topic.
Baucus and Camp plan to travel the country, "meeting with Americans -- individuals, families, workers and business owners, big and small," the two said in a joint statement. "We want to hear how we can make the system fairer and easier to deal with for families across America."
Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, have worked together on various issues. "They've had a really great relationship for years now," said Sean Neary, director of communications for the Senate Finance Committee.
The two legislators chose St. Paul because they wanted a location that's representative of America, and one that would have both a large, Fortune 500 company and a small business that's worked on tax issues, Neary said.
During their stop at 3M, Baucus and Camp will tour the company's Innovation Center, accompanied by 3M executives. The Innovation Center highlights the various technologies and materials science used by 3M, the Maplewood-based giant that makes Scotch Tape, traffic markers and thousands of other products. Baucus and Camp will then meet with 3M employees to gather their input on tax issues.
They're expected to do much the same at Baldinger Bakery, which is a fourth-generation, family-owned operation that has a substantial contract with McDonald's to make buns. The Baldingers built a sprawling $10 million high-tech bakery on Phalen Boulevard a couple of years ago. The site is in a tax-increment finance district, and the deal the Baldingers struck with the St. Paul Port Authority included a federal tax credit.
Research and development tax credits are a likely topic at 3M, which spends more than $1 billion a year on R&D. The tax treatment of small businesses, including the corporate tax rate, is expected to come up at Baldinger, Neary said.
While their St. Paul visit can be viewed as a sign of bipartisanship, it should be noted that both Baucus and Camp are likely to draft their own versions of a tax reform bill. Details on their respective plans won't be part of their Monday visit.
"It isn't them stumping," Neary said. "They've had over 50 hearings on it, they've heard from experts on how to make it simpler," and now they want to hear from people around the country.
Camp and Baucus also launched a website, taxreform.gov, and a Twitter feed, @simplertaxes, where citizens can get information and give input about tax reform.
Baucus wants to have a tax reform bill completed during the current Congress, which runs until the end of 2014. And Baucus has already announced he's not running for re-election in 2014, meaning time is short.
Also, while Camp has no plans to leave Congress, his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee has a term limit, and he'll only hold the position through 2014.
"They both very much want to get this done," Neary said.
Future stops for Baucus and Camp are expected to include a health care facility, a nonprofit organization and an institute of higher learning, among others.
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