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Senior House Republican Camp says Obama has "evolved" on corporate taxes

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about tightening gun regulations during a visit to the Denver Police Academy in Denver, Colorado April 3,
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about tightening gun regulations during a visit to the Denver Police Academy in Denver, Colorado April 3,

By Kim Dixon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama received rare words of praise from a senior House of Representatives Republican on Thursday, with the head of the tax-writing committee saying Obama has "evolved" by explicitly pledging not to raise total corporate taxes as part of a tax overhaul.

Speaking at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp again pledged to pass a broad tax bill this year in his committee.

While not seeking higher corporate taxes, Obama's budget proposal unveiled on Wednesday for fiscal 2014, which begins October 1, did call for tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans. Obama's plan is unlikely ever to win approval in Congress but could add momentum toward a broad tax overhaul.

Camp praised some elements of Obama's budget plan, and said he is happy the president vowed not to raise additional revenue from corporations.

"Certainly I'm pleased that the president put revenue-neutral corporate reform in his budget - that is a good step," Camp said. "The president's position has evolved."

For his own part, Camp adhered to his long-standing opposition to raising new revenue through tax code changes - a goal that Obama and many fellow Democrats have insisted on.

Camp also ruled out possibly doing business-only tax reform, calling it "technically impossible."

Obama proposed a $3.77 trillion budget that combines cuts to social safety net programs with the tax increases on the wealthy.

His budget included proposed cuts in Social Security, the pension program for retirees, and in Medicare, the health insurance program for the elderly and disabled. While Obama has made these proposals before, their prominence in the budget plan was designed to demonstrate his seriousness about negotiating with Republicans.

The proposal revives Obama's call that wealthier people help more with deficit reduction. It would require those making $1 million a year or more to pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes, after gifts to charity.

Obama's budget also included proposals to cap tax breaks for wealthier taxpayers, increase the estate tax and end the tax break for the "carried interest" income of fund managers like those who run private equity and other investment firms.

(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Will Dunham)

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