Dave Camp — Ways and Means Committee

A fiscal conservative who stands up for business

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Dave Camp of Michigan, the presumptive new chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, was first elected two decades ago and his conservative views on fiscal issues have won him broad backing in the business community.

Camp, currently the most senior Republican on the Ways and Means Committee has championed his party’s tax-cutting ideology and anti-big government line on key issues under the panel’s jurisdiction, such as the huge Medicare and Social Security entitlement programs. During the 111th Congress, Camp voted with his party 93.6 percent of the time, and the American Conservative Union gives him a lifetime rating of 89 percent.

Camp, 57, has been an ardent advocate of extending the entire range of Bush-era tax cuts, which he voted for twice. Although he has occasionally credited President Barack Obama for bipartisanship, Camp criticized the $787 billion economic stimulus package, faulting it as too costly and “not the right kind of tax relief to create jobs.”

“We need to prevent any further tax increases,” Camp told CNBC on Wednesday, adding that he wants to see fundamental tax reform. “We have the highest business tax in the world except for Japan.”

Camp also attacked the administration’s 2010 budget for excessive spending and taxation. In the last year, he played a big role in the health care debate: Camp wrote a GOP alternative to the Democrats’ health care reform bill, and voted against the final measure, criticizing it for creating new taxes and failing to adhere to “pay as you go” budget rules.

A supporter of private accounts for Social Security, Camp played a significant role in passing welfare reform legislation in the mid-1990s that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

Camp lives in Midland and represents the state’s 4th district, which encompasses farmland and forests stretching across Central Michigan and the northwestern Lower Peninsula. Prior to his U.S. House career, Camp served in the Michigan statehouse from 1989 to 1990; and spent more than a decade as a practicing attorney in Michigan.

Top PAC contributors

  • Abbott Laboratories, a pharmaceutical company — at least $40,000
  • American Seniors Housing Association, a group representing companies that provide housing for the elderly — at least $40,000
  • WellPoint Inc., a health insurer with 33 million customers — at least $40,000
  • Honeywell International, a maker of products ranging from Pentagon weapons to household air purifiers — at least $37,000
  • Altria, the tobacco behemoth — at least $35,000
  • Davita Inc., a kidney care device manufacturer — at least $35,000
  • Eli Lilly & Co., another pharmaceutical giant — at least $35,000
  • American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, a professional group —at least $35,000
  • PACs gave at least $4.7 million to Camp’s campaign account and his Continuing a Majority Party Action Committee leadership PAC. Camp received $3.76 million more in contributions from PACs than from individuals

Revolving door

  • Dena Battle, legislative director (May 1999 to May 2001), is director of tax policy for the National Association of Manufacturers
  • Christopher Wenk, legislative assistant (Jan. 2001 through Sept. 2004), is senior director for international policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Behrends Foster, an ex-chief of staff for Camp who was with him from 1994-2001, became a lobbyist for health insurer group America’s Health Insurance Plans, and recently set up a small lobbying firm called Blue Stone Strategies that represents AHIP and other clients

Earmarks

  • In 2010, Camp got five earmarks worth more than $1.6 million according to Taxpayers for Common Sense
  • For 2008-10, the same group calculated that Camp by himself or with other lawmakers secured $7.9 million worth of earmarks

Stimulus letters

  • Camp voted against the 2009 economic stimulus bill but supported Northwestern Michigan College’s application for Energy Department funds to train instructors for solar heating and cooling systems installation

Campaign pledges

  • Camp has pledged to “repeal and replace” the health care overhaul law that was enacted earlier this year
  • Camp has embraced the House GOP’s “Pledge to America,” which includes his proposals that would allow small businesses to deduct from their taxes 20 percent of their business income and to repeal a tax-reporting mandate on small businesses

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