Changes are afoot in Congress well ahead of the midterm elections in November.
Before the Senate recessed until Feb. 24, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., was named the next chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, replacing Max Baucus, the former Democratic senator from Montana who was recently chosen by President Barack Obama to be the U.S. ambassador to China.
Wyden will take the reins at Senate Finance during a year in which progress on tax reform is supposed to move ahead. Before leaving his post, Baucus released in late 2013 a series of discussion drafts on reforming the nation’s tax code.
Kyle Pomerleau, economist for the Tax Foundation in Washington, says the release of Baucus’ proposals last fall “provided a marker” on where the House and the Senate stand on tax reform.
Indeed, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said at a January event that the budget and tax debate “will only be intensified as we move forward toward the midterm elections.” Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, agreed, stating at the event that, “As we move forward, we will have to have tax reform and move every rock for revenue.”
Retirement planning groups, of course, will be working to ensure Wyden preserves the tax incentives for retirement savings plans.
Another important congressional appointment for advisors to watch will be who replaces Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who just left his post as chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance and Investment to chair the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
Tester was a vocal supporter of putting brokers under a fiduciary mandate. He told former SEC Chairwoman Elisse Walter during a Senate Banking Committee hearing last year that the SEC’s fiduciary rule should be a “priority because it is a benefit to investors” and that she should “push it.”