While the Senate is moving closer towards a final vote on the Obama-Reid healthcare overhaul, one item of unfinished business is still on the agenda for this year – the vote to raise the debt ceiling.  The House has already passed H.R. 4314 which would increase the statutory limit on the national debt by $290 billion, from $12.104 trillion to $12.394 trillion. 

The Senate is still looking to pass the debt ceiling increase before the year is out, and there still is the danger of Sens. Conrad and Gregg insisting on offering their ill-conceived tax/spending "reform" commission bill as an amendment to the debt ceiling bill.

ATR and CFA have been pointing out the dangers of such a commission as envisioned by Sens. Conrad and Gregg on numerous occasions, and, in the event this issue comes up before year’s end, have informed Senators that both groups would negatively score a vote in support of the commission in our annual congressional ratings.

From our vote alert:

In the event this issue comes before the U.S. Senate before year’s end, Americans for Tax Reform and the Center for Fiscal Accountability urge all members to vote “No” on any amendment to H.R. 4314 establishing the Conrad/Gregg bipartisan commission to develop legislation making wholesale changes to the tax code and spending policy.

While innocuous-sounding, a commission as envisioned by Sens. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) would lead to a guaranteed tax increase:

It would establish an eighteen-member task force comprised of ten Democrat and eight Republican Congressmen, Senators, and Administration officials. A report from the commission would need to gather fourteen votes in order to make an expedited recommendation to both bodies. The recommendation would only pass with a supermajority vote in each chamber.

Despite the appearance of protection for taxpayers, this commission would guarantee a net tax increase be in its proposal. Every Democrat on the commission would insist on tax increases to “balance” spending cuts in the recommendation.

There is no conceivable scenario whereby the commission would issue a report that does not contain tax hikes.

To be acceptable from a taxpayer perspective, language would have to be included that explicitly removes tax increases and/or new taxes from commission consideration, but, as envisioned by Sens. Conrad and Gregg, setting up this commission would be a horrible deal for taxpayers.

Stand up for Taxpayers!

Vote “NO” on any amendment to H.R. 4314 establishing the Conrad/Gregg bipartisan tax/spending “reform” commission!

ATR and CFA WOULD SCORE POSITIVELY a vote AGAINST the Conrad/Gregg commission in our annual Congressional ratings.