CUNA CEO/President Bill Cheney said the departure of Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) from the Senate as Finance Committee chairman earlier than expected could delay tax reform.
President Barack Obama has nominated Baucus, 72, for U.S. Ambassador to China.
“Maintaining the credit union federal tax status remains our top legislative advocacy issue. Recent news that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus will be nominated as ambassador to China could possibly delay efforts in Congress to overhaul the tax code,” Cheney told Credit Union Times.
“However, the issue is far from dead. Indeed, as new leadership comes into place, it is as important as ever to continue the national conversation about the value credit unions bring to the financial marketplace, and how our tax status helps support good public policy.”
John McKechnie, partner at the Washington-based advocacy and strategy firm Total Spectrum, said the tax reform process could slow down significantly due to Baucus’ exit.
"While everyone knew that Senate Finance would have a new chairman in 2015 due to Chairman Baucus' retirement, the possibility that he will exit the Senate stage in 2014 has changed the political calculus regarding timing. The smart money was betting on introduction of tax bills in both chambers next year, and the groundwork would be laid for eventual reform,” he told Credit Union Times.
“But it now appears that the process may slow down considerably. If the rumors are true that Senator (Ron) Wyden (D-Ore.) will take the Finance Committee gavel, it will remain to be seen if he develops the same close working relationship, and comes to the same basic agreements on revenue, with House Ways and Means Chairman (Dave) Camp (R-Mich.) that Chairman Baucus did,” McKechnie added.
Reacting to Baucus’ nomination, NAFCU said it would “remain vigilant” in educating Congress about the benefits of protecting the tax-exempt status for credit unions.
“Senator Wyden, who would likely replace Baucus as Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, is also a proponent of tax reform, and has a good relationship with (Camp),” said NAFCU Vice President of Political Affairs Katie Marisic.
“Coupled along with recent statements by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that he, ‘hopes tax reform will be tackled in the first quarter of next year,’ leads NAFCU to believe that tax reform debate will continue in 2014.”
Wyden is the current chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
“Our diplomatic relationships in East Asia are some of the most important of the 21st century. He will be an excellent representative of America’s interests,” the Oregon Democrat said of Baucus.
“The Senate Finance Committee has many important responsibilities which include promoting job creation, ensuring competitiveness and stabilizing the nation’s fiscal health,” Wyden said.
“I also look forward to continuing my work on preserving the Medicare guarantee and protecting retirement security, updating the nation’s tax system with a focus on growth, fairness and efficiency and ensuring that fiscal policy supports keeping jobs here in America,” he said.