16 June 2011

To: Pro-Taxpayer Senators
From: Grover Norquist
            Americans for Tax Reform

Cc: state and local taxpayer groups.

Republican Leadership is insisting that the DeMint amendment to end the death tax and to end the ethanol mandate be voted on before cloture is invoked on the underlying bill entitled S. 782, the Economic Development Reauthorization bill.

The DeMint amendment abolishes the death tax and abolishes the ethanol mandate.  The DeMint amendment is a significant reduction in taxes and a giant step towards full tax reform by eliminating the double taxation of lifetime savings caused by the death tax.  Ending the ethanol mandate is a significant move towards a free market in energy.

The Coburn amendment ends the ethanol tax credit that is already set to end on December 31 of this year.  It is a small one year tax increase and because it leaves the underlying ethanol mandate in place does little if anything to end government distortion of the energy market. However, coupled with the significant and useful DeMint amendment the Coburn amendment would help clean up the tax code and also ends a tariff on imported ethanol.  Tariffs are taxes.

Senators who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to their states’ voters have promised to oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase net taxes. A vote for DeMint alone or a vote for Coburn and DeMint are both consistent with keeping one’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge to your voters.

There have been deliberate efforts to confuse both Senators and voters about what is and is not a vote for a tax hike.   The Tuesday vote for cloture was not a vote for higher taxes as it just opened the door to vote on both the Coburn amendment which was a small tax increase, but also moved towards the DeMint legislation which is a larger tax cut and a real improvement in removing government from controlling the production and consumption of energy.

Today, a Senator might choose to vote for the Coburn amendment to send a largely symbolic message of disapproval of government picking winners and losers in the energy industry. As long as that vote was followed by a vote for DeMint (or a vote to deny cloture if the offsetting tax cut and real energy reform in DeMint is denied a vote by Reid) a Senator will have voted consistent with his or her pledge to voters.

If a Senator wishes to vote for a small tax hike, and against ending the death tax and for maintaining the ethanol mandate, then one simply votes for Coburn and against the DeMint amendment.

As always, if the final bill has a net tax hike inside it a vote for the tax increasing bill would of course be a violation of a Senator’s pledge to his states’ voters.

Grover G. Norquist

Click here for a PDF file of the above letter