WASHINGTON Feb 12 President Barack Obama will
renew his bid to curb tax breaks prized by corporations and the
wealthiest Americans in a speech on Tuesday laying out his
legislative agenda, but the proposals are sure to face familiar
roadblocks from congressional Republicans.
The president will propose to "reform our business tax code,
(lower) the corporate tax rate with an even lower rate for
manufacturers," and set a minimum tax on offshore earnings,
according to a fact sheet provided by the White House ahead of
the annual State of the Union address to Congress.
Obama also will back tax reforms that close "loopholes for
the wealthy," according to the summary.
If the plan sounds familiar, it should, because the ideas
largely mirror those Obama pitched in his address a year ago.
Since then, he won re-election campaigning on tax fairness and
Republicans lost congressional seats, but even the president's
backers say they face a tough road.
"Unless Republicans have a real 'come to Jesus moment,' it
is difficult to imagine them supporting many or any of these
provisions," said Jim Manley, a former top adviser to Democratic
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The speech comes as another fiscal crisis brews in a
stand-off between the White House and congressional Republicans,
this time over automatic spending cuts set to kick in on March
Obama and fellow Democrats back a mix of revenue and
tailored spending cuts to avoid what is known as the
"sequester," while Republicans oppose any tax increases.
Democrats and Republicans both say they want a full-scale
revamp of the U.S. tax code - but they are far apart on how to
Republican Representative Dave Camp, who chairs the
tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, is working on a plan
to revamp the tax code. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max
Baucus, a Democrat, is also working on a proposal.
But a full-scale tax code overhaul is a massive endeavor,
and it has been somewhat crowded out by issues like immigration
and gun control in recent weeks and months.
"It is not an issue that has much momentum behind it, but
having people like the president and Dave Camp talking about it
will help that," said Erik Smith, a former adviser to Obama who
now advises companies at Blue Engine Media.
Obama has also called for review of the corporate tax code -
including lowering the top corporate tax rate to 28 percent from
35 percent, to be paid for by closing business tax breaks.
Republicans back a lower corporate rate, but have resisted
the idea of tackling it in isolation because many businesses
file taxes through the individual side of the tax code and would
be left out.