From John McKinnon at The Wall Street Journal, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the tax-writing Finance Committee says deficit reduction plans should avoid tax hikes.  “‘The sentiment among Republicans generally is that fiscal reform and tax reform must be separate endeavors,’ Mr. Hatch says in his prepared remarks. ‘We must reduce deficits and debt through spending reductions. Separately, we must promote tax reform. If we try to mix the two, we risk walking down the road to a backdoor tax increase.’ …Some senior Democrats have sought to take Social Security out of the deficit-reduction equation, while conservative activists such as Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, have objected to any proposal for higher taxes.”

 “Senate conservatives split over tax reforms in deficit reduction strategy” by Alexander Bolton at The Hill. “Ryan Ellis, the tax policy director at Americans for Tax Reform, a group that advocates for lower taxes, said tax reform must not have the net effect of a tax increase. ‘The 1986 tax reform act lowered rates, broadened the base but did so in a tax revenue-neutral way,’ he said. ‘Under no circumstances can tax reform be a tax increase.’…Americans for Tax Reform sent letters to Crapo, Coburn and Chambliss warning that increasing net taxes through tax reform would violate the group’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge. The three GOP senators responded with a letter assuring Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, that they had not signed onto any proposal to increase taxes. ‘Like you, we believe tax hikes will hinder, not promote economic growth,’ they wrote.”

ATR weighs in on Michigan Gov.-elect Rick Snyder’s new budget as highlighted in The Washington Times.  “The refreshing novelty of Mr. Snyder's vision is that no spending cow is too sacred to be sliced up and skewered – a fact of life more politicians need to embrace…The overall result of all the revenue reforms would be a net tax cut for Michiganders, according to Americans for Tax Reform. Mr. Snyder's work also will be cut out for him when taking on labor over entitlements, particularly his move to save a couple hundred million dollars a year by requiring higher health care premiums for public employees accustomed to having taxpayers underwrite their cushy benefits packages.”