In an era when politics took on a decidedly combative stance, particularly on hot-button social issues, Dave Camp was always the exception.
With his announcement Monday that he will not seek re-election this fall, the U.S. House will have lost one of its most thoughtful and respected thinkers.
While there was never any doubt about Camp’s conservative credentials or his bedrock positions on the economy, taxes, health care, Medicaid and Social Security, Camp was not a bomb-thrower. He was a policy guy and, frankly, a bit of a wonk.
As chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Camp spent literally years working to revamp the dreadful U.S.tax code. In typical style, Camp forged an alliance with Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, and they traveled the country together last year promoting reform. Baucus retired earlier this year, but Camp went ahead and unveiled his tax proposal last month.
The plan was widely praised for eliminating loopholes, creating a fairer flat tax for most taxpayers, cutting 220 sections of the code and collapsing seven tax brackets into two effective rates, But predictably, the movers and shakers didn’t like it and it was dead on arrival.
Camp was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2012. After several months of chemotherapy, Camp announced he was cancer-free in December of that year.
Camp’s chairmanship of the Ways and Means committee was term-limited at six years. He could have sought a waiver to continue, but he chose to retire, leaving the door open for Rep. Paul Ryan.
The Midland native was one of the biggest vote-getters in Michigan, and easily won re-election (with never less than 61 percent of the vote) since winning the seat after childhood friend and current Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette stepped down to run against Sen. Carl Levin.