A Republican member of the House Ways & Means Committee warned President Barack Obama this week that his professed interest in raising taxes is moot, since the Constitution clearly states that only Congress has the power to levy taxes.
"Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution is clear on this matter — only Congress has the power to tax," Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) wrote in a Thursday letter to Obama. "The statement by your press secretary this week that you are 'very interested' in reshaping the tax code through unilateral action would be a clear violation of the Constitution and continue a disturbing lack of bipartisanship."
On Monday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama, a former constitutional scholar, is "very interested" in taking executive action to raise taxes. That comment was based on a letter from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that suggested Obama could raise $100 billion by closing "tax loopholes" that now benefit those companies.
Buchanan said he and other members of Congress are willing to work with Obama to achieve the bipartisan goal of lowering overall tax rates. But he said the White House needs to work with Congress on this, and can't work alone.
"I remind you that the last successful tax reform effort, nearly 30 years ago, required President Reagan and a Democratic Congress to find common ground," he wrote. "But unilateral action could poison the well of goodwill that is necessary to tackle this urgent challenge in a bipartisan manner."