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CohnReznick Capitol Connection: Winter in DC: Playing Out Like a Holiday Classic


12/22/14

Outgoing Ways and Means Chairman David Camp, like George Bailey in the holiday classic, It’s A Wonderful Life, is leaving Congress to go back home to his own Bedford Falls in Midland, Michigan. He leaves behind a tax reform discussion draft that many say performed poorly at the box office initially (but we all know what can become popular over time).
 
Camp took on the arduous task of tax reform, and while many believe his efforts are just going to sit on a shelf at “the Bailey Building and Loan Association,” others believe he leaves behind the framework for future tax reform as he retires from Congress.
 
It was just a few short weeks ago that a two-year extenders package was being discussed to the tune of $450 billion – a package that included permanent provisions like the R&D credit. Chairman Camp and Harry Reid were working on the details and optimism was in the air. Given the lack of gap financing and soft dollars nationally that help build affordable rental housing, the fix would help many properties get financed.
 
Just as some started to believe a permanent 9% fix was possible, a veto threat reduced the bill to what many call the lowest common denominator possible. Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden called it, “a bill with a shelf life shorter than a carton of eggs.” It was at that point the affordable housing industry started looking for Clarence the angel. The two-year package would have paved the road for a better shot at tax reform in 2015, something incoming Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch would have preferred. In a matter of days, the 9% fixed rate for credits allocated in 2014 will expire and 2015 allocations will be challenging to finance at the floating rate.
 
The movie was over. Time to go home, right?
 
And then, “Jingle, Jingle.” Unexpectedly last week, the bell on the Christmas tree rang for affordable housing, as funding was secured for the National Housing Trust Fund and increased for RAD; both gifts were not expected. These are major accomplishments at a time when the national affordable housing need has grown to desperate levels.
 
Looking forward to 2015, the question is whether this Congress and Administration can see eye to eye on comprehensive tax reform. The Housing Credit was included as a program in the discussion draft and it gives the industry the wings to improve the program and increase funding in the future. We have Camp to thank for that. There has been a lot of gratitude sent Camp’s way for his work and perseverance in taking on one of the hardest tasks in DC. As he leaves to enjoy life at home, I would like to quote Clarence – “Remember no man is a failure who has friends. P.S. Thanks for the wings!”
 
Bob Moss is a CohnReznick Principal and National Director of Governmental Affairs. Bob leads the Firm’s federal and state government relations efforts, particularly in the area of affordable housing. He can be reached at bob.moss@cohnreznick.com or 617-648-1406. For more legislative insight from Bob, visit our Capitol Connection webpage.


This has been prepared for information purposes and general guidance only and does not constitute professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional advice. No representation or warranty (express or implied) is made as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication, and CohnReznick LLP, its members, employees and agents accept no liability, and disclaim all responsibility, for the consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in this publication or for any decision based on it.

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