Democrat Max Baucus warns: More to come out on IRS scandal

BY: Paul Bedard | May 17, 2013 | 12:00 am

Senior Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, who recently slapped Obamacare as a "train wreck," believes that the IRS scandal is just beginning and that "a lot more" damaging information will be revealed, likely at congressional hearings.

"I have a hunch that a lot more is going to come out, frankly," Baucus, whose pending retirement seems to have freed him up to speak bluntly, told Bloomberg Government's "Capitol Gains" TV show.

"It's broader than the current focus. And I think it's important that we have the hearings, and I think that will encourage other information to come out that has not yet come out. I suspect that we will learn more in the next several days, maybe the next couple three weeks which adds more context to all of this," added Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

But a House leader, Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, said the scandal hasn't reached the level where a special prosecutor is warranted.

"I don't think we're [at the point of appointing a special counsel]. At least I'm not there yet," Camp told the show. "We need to know how and why and certainly try to restore the faith that's been broken and the trust that's been broken as people have been targeted for their political beliefs, which is completely unacceptable."

Camp's committee today opens the first of a series of hearings on the IRS and their political harassment of Tea Party groups.

Bloomberg released a series of highlights from the interview, to be aired Sunday. They are below:

Dave Camp on the IRS scandal:

"I don't think we're [at the point of appointing a special counsel]. At least I'm not there yet. We need to know how and why and certainly try to restore the faith that's been broken and the trust that's been broken as people have been targeted for their political beliefs, which is completely unacceptable."

Max Baucus on the IRS scandal:

"I have a hunch that a lot more is going to come out, frankly. It's broader than the current focus. And I think it's important that we have the hearings, and I think that will encourage other information to come out that has not yet come out. I suspect that we will learn more in the next several days, maybe the next couple three weeks which adds more context to all of this."

Dave Camp on the IRS targeting groups for political reasons:

"Clearly there has been taxpayer confidential information leaked, and potentially for political reasons. And obviously only one political perspective was targeted, so it does seem to have significant political overtones. But we just don't know where this will lead until we take a serious look at it."

Max Baucus on the IRS targeting groups for political reasons:

"This actually leads to new momentum for tax reform because this is an important provision in the code. And this provision has raised lots of questions now, and also how it's tied with another significant provision, the so-called section 527. And that's - that's - that's going to help I think encourage more momentum for tax reform.

Dave Camp on republicans supporting legislation to refocus rules on 501(c)4 organizations: Well, this is I think much larger than that because we've had donors who were targeted. We've had obviously confidential information leaked. And clearly we've had one political persuasion group - conservative group had their information held up. So it's just hard to know exactly what the solution will be. But the purpose of the hearings will be to find out is there some legislative action, like tax reform, that would actually give less discretion to the IRS through a simpler, fairer tax code.

Max Baucus on republicans supporting legislation to refocus rules on 501(c)4 organizations:

This actually leads to new momentum for tax reform because this is an important provision in the code. And this provision has raised lots of questions now, and also how it's tied with another significant provision, the so-called section 527. And that's - that's - that's going to help I think encourage more momentum for tax reform. There'll be a lot of senators. The public's going to wonder, hey, what about this statute? Should it be changed? We'll see.

Dave Camp on whether the IRS scandal will slow down progress on tax reform:

I think it just points out how complex the tax code is and - and the discretion then that is in the hands of the IRS because of the complexity of the code. So I think a more transparent, simpler, fairer code is clearly a goal. But obviously we need to find out what really happened here, and then we can decide what conclusions should be drawn afterwards.

Max Baucus on whether the IRS scandal will slow down progress on tax reform:

I don't think this is going to slow down tax reform, not at all.

Dave Camp on completing tax reform:

First of all, we're both [Max Baucus] very committed to doing it. And clearly the complexity of the current code is I think case in point. Secondly, we need a healthier economy. And if we can get a pro-growth tax plan that really brings us into the 21st century, I think that's really something that the American people will support."

Max Baucus on completing tax reform:

"There's a huge need for reform. Other countries have changed since 1986, made their companies more competitive. We have to as well. In fact, there's an opportunity even to get a little ahead of the game. We've got to work now.

"And the big question about revenues is one that I think that can be put off for a while. That should not get in the way."

Dave Camp on specifics of tax reform:

"We get those lower [individual and business rates] by closing off some of the loopholes and deductions and thousands of provisions that have been added to the code. Let's start with a clean sheet of paper and see what kind of code do we want to design for the best economy, the strongest America, the most prosperous families."

Max Baucus on specifics of tax reform:

"Everything's on the table. Everything. Otherwise if we start taking pet items off the table, another group will rationalize their pet item should be off the table. So everything's on the table. We're looking at everything."

Dave Camp on the legislative calendar and getting tax reform to the floor for a vote:

The calendar's kind of like the weather. It's pretty hard to predict. But I think we're all looking at trying to do this as soon as possible and trying to get it done certainly. But this is something we need to get on and just begin to work and really get it done this session. They gave me HR 1, so that's a pretty indication of where the speaker is."