Senate Republican and Democratic leaders told reporters Tuesday that they see little hope for tax reform this year, the day before House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R—Mich.) is due to present his proposal on the very same subject.
“It would be extremely difficult, and with the obstruction that we get here from the Republicans on virtually everything, to do something that should have been done years ago,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “I think that [Chairman] Camp is right in coming forward with a piece of legislation,” he added, before noting that the senate would be unlikely to begin negotiations quickly as Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) had only just taken over from Sen. Max Baucus (R—Mont.) as Senate Finance Chairman. “And so we’re over here starting over again.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated that the chances of tax reform are all but nil. “I think we will not be able to finish the job, regretfully, in 2014,” McConnell told reporters on Tuesday. “Now, if we had a new Republican Senate next year, coupled with a Republican House, I think we could have at least a congressional agreement that this is about getting rates down and making America more competitive.” McConnell had already made similar remarks several times over the past year. In mid-January, a House leadership aide told TIME that the chances were weren’t very good without “executive level leadership.”
The mud-slinging obstructs an issue that has had bipartisan support in the past. But there is little urgency for action—according to a Pew poll, the American people puts health care, Medicare, Social Security, terrorism, education, the budget and jobs, ahead of tax reform. In an election year, that means that tax reform will have little to no chance of passage.