The Washington Times ran a piece this past weekend co-authored by ATR president Grover Norquist and CFA executive director Sandra Fabry discussing the dangers of a Conrad-Gregg-style commission and pointing out the alternative of creating a BRAC-like spending-only commission. From the piece:

If we want to be guided by history, why not look at examples that have actually worked? Congress in 1990 enacted the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act. The BRAC process led to the successful closure of military bases that were underused in the wake of the Cold War, and has consequently helped to streamline military spending. Note that the BRAC commission would not have worked if it had been tasked with either closing unnecessary bases or raising taxes to pay for unnecessary bases. It worked because it had one job: to save taxpayer money by closing unnecessary bases, and that’s the model we should follow now. There really is no reason this successful model could not be applied to all of the rapidly expanding federal agencies and programs.

In fact, conservatives on Capitol Hill are currently looking into creating a BRAC-style spending-only commission, which has its historic precedent in the Joint Committee on Reduction of Nonessential Federal Expenditures, the so-called Byrd Committee, dating back to World War II. Such a BRAC-style spending-only commission would be the prudent course of action, as it would not run the risk of being hijacked as a vehicle for a massive tax increase, and even possibly a European-style Value Added Tax (VAT), for which the Conrad-Gregg commission is a stalking horse. To give the commission more clout, and in line with the wishes of taxpayers, its deliberations should be fully transparent.