Traverse City Record-Eagle

Op-Ed Columns

April 1, 2012

George Weeks: Levin, Camp lauded

Yet again, veteran members of the Michigan congressional delegation have been cited by the national media for committee leadership on Capitol Hill.

For many years, 28-term Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, longest-serving member of the House, was lauded for his chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Six-term Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, Michigan's longest-serving senator, has been a headliner as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Most recently, the National Journal hailed Levin for effectiveness chairing the subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management. He's dug up dirt, and helped clean up much of it..

Now comes Bloomberg with well-deserved raves for 11-term Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland, chairman of the mighty powerful House Ways and Means Committee, and, as noted here previously, a key player on assorted panels named to deal with the nation's yet-unresolved fiscal woes.

In touting Camp's deal-making amid the Capitol Hill gridlock, Bloomberg said that in a Congress obstructed by political divides, Camp and his counterpart, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, "are starting to develop a record of deals both parties can support."

(Also noted here previously, Camp and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, have worked cooperatively on some Great Lakes issues. Stabenow this year is seeking a third term against a Republican nominee likely to be ex-Rep. Pete Hoekstra, of Holland.)

In a March report, Bloomberg said that, aided by Camp and Baucus, "Congress expanded a payroll tax cut last month, sent three long-stalled trade deals to (President) Obama in October and repealed a tax requirement in the health-care overhaul last April."

But Bloomberg noted that those are minor accomplishments compared with the work that awaits them at the end of the year. On Dec. 31, the 2001 and 2003 income-tax cuts and the payroll tax reduction tax reduction will expire.

Bloomberg said Camp, 58, and Baucus, 70, "still have plenty of disagreements, especially on issues that reflect their parties' ideological divide over taxes and spending. They were members of the congressional supercommittee that in November couldn't come to an accord on a deficit-reduction strategy. Unless Congress acts, that will result in $1.2 trillion in cuts to defense and other spending in January."

Camp's role is enhanced by his close relationship with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Boehner, says Bloomberg, "has placed Camp at the center of tax and budget battles and has publicly backed his efforts."

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said: "Chairman Camp has done a terrific job taking the lead on some of the toughest challenges Congress has faced over the past year and the speaker certainly appreciates it."

Bloomberg said that representatives for Baucus and Camp declined to comment for its story.

But it was a Camp representative, ever alert to touting positive publicity as his boss held office hours last week Up North, who called my attention to the Bloomberg report.

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