“FCHB Arrington in Floydada June 2017” by Barbara Brannon [https://flic.kr/p/Ugnd6P] and “Doug Ducey & Mitt Romney” by Gage Skidmore [https://flic.kr/p/29dZYAG]

Top proponents of the Fiscal Commission Act are openly admitting that the proposed commission is designed to recommend tax hikes on the American people. House Republicans should take them at their word and reject the creation of the proposed commission.

In January, the House Budget Committee, led by Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), passed H.R. 5779, the Fiscal Commission Act (FCA) of 2023. In the Senate, this effort has been led by Senators Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.).

This bill would establish a Fiscal Commission tasked with making recommendations and writing legislative language to “improve the long-term fiscal condition of the federal government.”  

This bill would give the commission the clear authority to recommend tax increases which would then be given “expedited consideration” in the House and Senate. In short, it is a tax trap.

Despite a few House Republicans naively asserting otherwise, this commission will lead to tax hike recommendations. But don’t take our word for it. The commission’s top proponents are openly admitting it.

Rep. Arrington, who has been one of the biggest proponents of the bill and spearheaded its passage through the House Budget Committee, told Semafor yesterday that tax hikes should be on the table:

It’s only fair to have both revenue and expenditures on the table. The last time there was a fix to Social Security that addressed the solvency for 75 years, it was Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill, and it was bipartisan. It had revenue measures and it had program reforms. That’s just the reality.”

In this statement, Rep. Arrington has jeopardized vulnerable Republican members in both the House and the Senate by destroying the GOP’s hard-earned anti-tax hike reputation. He further stabs President Trump in the back, by undermining efforts to make the Trump tax cuts permanent. After all, those policies will be first on the chopping block during these commission “meetings.”

There is virtually nothing the beltway press loves more than a Republican weakening the party’s strongest selling points, with one Washington Post columnist exclaiming, “Wow… This is a big shift.”

Make no mistake, if Republicans create this commission, lone wolf statements from members like Rep. Arrington will be characterized as “the Republican plan.”

As mentioned, Senators Romney and Manchin are pushing this bill in the Senate and testified before the House in favor of the bill.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), testifying before the House Budget Committee in support of the FCA, stated:

“Everything is on the table. Meaning revenues as well as spending. If there are other ideas, there is an arbitrage idea put forward by a couple of Senators. Basically, all ideas are on the table. Including revenue.”

During this hearing, Romney and Manchin put a payroll tax increase on the table, a Biden-endorsed tax increase that would kill jobs, reduce wages, and wallop small businesses and the self-employed.

Manchin said:

Take the cap off, the FICA cap, OK?”

Romney responded by saying this payroll tax should, in fact, be on the table:

“What should they — what should the tax be? I mean, on what part of income should it be? Should it be — should we lift the cap, as Senator Manchin has indicated? So, all those things are on the table for discussion.”

During the House Budget Committee markup of the FCA, a Democrat supporting the commission, Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), stated:

“If we come up with something that doesn’t have revenues in it…we’re not going to vote it onto the floor.”

Even the organizations who support this bill are evidence that the commission will further efforts to increase taxes and undermine conservative policy goals.

For example, in a recent op-ed in The Hill, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) endorsed H.R. 5779. The CRFB is an organization which – despite attempting to position itself as a right-of-center group – endorsed Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, opposed the 2017 Trump Tax Cuts, and sided against multiple efforts to repeal Obamacare.

At this point, any assertion that this commission won’t recommend tax hikes is akin to telling legislators and voters “not to believe their lying eyes.” A “Bipartisan Fiscal Commission” is a disaster waiting to happen. House Republicans should abandon this terrible idea while they still can.

For more information, visit www.atr.org/TaxTrap.