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Dave Camp and the Charge of the Republican Light-Headed Brigade

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Don’t miss Politico’s love letter to lame duck Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp this morning, full of secret plans for secret meetings fueled by secret polls on how Michigan Congressman Dave Camp is going to pull the tax reform unicorn out of a secret hat with the help of lame-lame duck Democratic Senator Max Baucus because the apparently indifferent-to-tax-reform country is actually, really-and-truly so interested in unicorn tax reform that Ways & Means cannot do tax reform of the sort that could pass –such as the repeal of the job-destroying Medical Device Tax– because it Must. Do. Big. Things.

Perhaps Dave Camp missed it, but Max Baucus announced his retirement yesterday because he has become something of a pariah on the Hill, one of the key engineers of the Obamacare “train wreck,” as Baucus himself called it.  But the reality of the fact that the GOP needs to stay far, far away from Baucus, hasn’t settled on Camp because, as Politico reveals, Camp has a secret poll:

The poll found that this statement was also supported by upward of 80 percent of respondents: “We need a tax code that protects taxpayers, not special interests, by creating a simpler, fairer code without all the loopholes.”

Wow.  What a stunner. Put out a special edition: “Mandate for whatever nonsense Dave Camp wants.”

Of course 80% of Americans will say yes to that inane question.  What do the other 20% favor –looting every other week?  That the Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee has to peddle such nonsense of evidence of a groundswell of support for his unicorn hunt is damning evidence of just the opposite conclusion.

Ask yourself about this secret poll: “So what?”  Did the House GOP put out a detailed plan and run on it in 2012?  No, and neither did the GOP’s nominee Mitt Romney.  There is no “GOP plan,” there is the Dave Camp plan which he hasn’t let anyone see, and which has been crafted with Max Baucus.

“Regular order” indeed.  This is a maneuver to flank the GOP base, exclude it from the House GOP agenda, and attempt to browbeat the House caucus into pursuing an utterly stupid initiative with no chance of passing into law while costing every opportunity to do something that will define the party for the 2014 midterms.

GOP freshmen should flee from this fiasco in the making, and members of Ways & Means should refuse to abet this strategic disaster that will undo the reality of tax reform for years to come, much like the failure of the big “secret deal” on immigration reform in 2006 crippled the idea of immigration reform for seven years.

You can’t climb Everest in certain seasons and this is the season you can’t do smart, comprehensive, conservative tax reform when the United Stats Senate is led by Harry Reid and the president is Barack Obama.

Let me repeat this obvious, enormous fact: The House cannot force through smart, comprehensive. conservative tax reform when the United States Senate is led by Harry Reid and the president is Barack Obama.

The House GOP always responds to its conservative critics that “we only have one-half of one third of the federal government.”  It’s usually offered as an excuse for not doing hard things which might get done at great political cost, but where is it now that Dave Camp is urging the House GOP to launch a suicide charge up a hill that cannot be taken in pursuit of a compromise with Democrats we don’t want?

Thus the Charge of the Republican Light-headed Brigade begins.  Many political careers will be lost or damaged in the process, and quite possibly the House GOP majority as voters watch a major, party-defining failure unfold in slow, slow motion.

Here’s the reality of the situation which Members will tell you in private: Dave Camp is captive to a ticking clock on his time atop Ways & Means. So instead of doing the smart and obvious –but not history-making– relatively small but very good things like blasting through a Medical Device Tax repeal to test the Senate’s test vote on the subject on March 22 (the vote in the Senate was 79 to 20 in favor of repeal) Camp is obliging the entire House Caucus to go through a pantomime with him.

Look, he’s the Chair of Ways & Means, and under the absurd rules of the House, that means he gets to do whatever damn thing he wants to do with the Committee.  He can effectively waste the Committee’s two years, but what is House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy doing abetting this?

(Best possible answer: Perhaps he is setting Camp up to have Eric Cantor say to him: “You heard what they all said Dave, we aren’t doing this.”  That would be a neat display of political skill that the House GOP hasn’t seen in a bit, provided it doesn’t take very long to accomplish.)

Call your GOP Representative –202-225-3121– and tell them you are opposed to this farce, that you don’t want to waste time dancing with Max Baucus and praying for Harry Reid’s and President Obama’s blessing on a unicorn tax reform plan that will end up killing off your last deductions like charitable giving and home mortgage interest while not reducing rates significantly.  We know President Obama isn’t going to do the latter but will gladly embrace the former.  “Comprehensive tax reform” is an impossible-this-Congress, costly, and diverting exercise in vanity, and everyone involved in it has put their own interests ahead of the House GOP’s, and especially ahead of industries like the medical device business that desperately needs what the Ways & Means Committee could actually deliver but won’t because it is under the control of a lame duck looking for one of those legacy things so dangerous to the ordinary taxpayer but so captivating of people who have stayed inside the Beltway too long.

What a fiasco.

The Charge of the Light Brigade
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson 
Memorializing Events in the Battle of Balaclava, October 25, 1854
Written 1854

Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred:
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d ?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d & thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack & Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke,
Shatter’d & sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse & hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder’d.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred! 






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