WASHINGTON — A sweeping House Republican plan to overhaul the nation’s tax laws would wipe out a slew of popular tax breaks to help pay for lower overall tax rates, a politically risky move in an election year that drew quick opposition Wednesday.
The plan would repeal deductions for state and local taxes, medical expenses and moving expenses. Tax credits for child care, adoption services and energy-efficient upgrades to homes would be gone.
The mortgage interest deduction would be reduced for people buying houses costing more than $500,000. The deduction for charitable giving would be limited to contributions that exceed 2 percent of a taxpayer’s income.
In exchange, income tax rates would be cut and the standard deduction, which is used by most taxpayers, would be nearly doubled. The child tax credit would be increased and a complicated series of tax breaks for education expenses would be consolidated and simplified.
The plan would mark the first overhaul of the tax code since 1986. It borrows ideas from President Barack Obama and other Democrats. But here’s a reality check: It has almost no chance of becoming law this year. Even House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, distanced himself from the details Wednesday.
Still, it could become an important political document as congressional elections approach in November. Should Republicans embrace the plan, they could use it to highlight their efforts to simplify tax laws and spur economic growth.
“We need to be the party of growth, opportunity, restoring the American dream. And I think this is something Americans have hungered for,” said the plan’s author, Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. “Look, we have an obligation to debate the big issues of the day.”
Democrats quickly revealed their election-year strategy, pointing out cherished tax breaks that would be cut.
“Any proposal that eliminates the deduction for state and local taxes, as the Republican plan would do, is dead on arrival,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Boehner, already wary of some of the unpleasant details, would not promise a vote in the House this year. When asked about the details, Boehner said: “Blah, blah, blah, blah. Listen, there’s a conversation that needs to begin. This is the beginning of the conversation.”
When asked whether the Republican Party stood behind the plan, Boehner said, “You’re getting a little bit ahead of yourself.”
The White House was more upbeat. Spokesman Josh Earnest said there are “a couple of aspects of congressman Camp’s proposal that are encouraging.”