As the U.S. Senate is looking to cast a vote on the Conrad/Gregg bipartisan tax and spending “reform” commission which, as written, will lead to a guaranteed tax increase, an alternative to this bad deal for taxpayers is being worked on. Conservatives on the Hill are looking at establishing a commission that unlike Conrad/Gregg would focus exclusively on spending, and would be modeled after the successful Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC).

The BRAC process, put in place by Congress in 1990, 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.  Proponents argue that there is no reason this successful model could not be applied to all of the rapidly expanding federal agencies and programs.

Explains Grover Norquist:

If we’re really serious about addressing our nation’s fiscal challenges, we need to start zooming in on total government spending, and only government spending. A BRAC-style commission would do exactly that, and it’s a proven approach that has worked, unlike the Conrad-Gregg commission proposal, which would only leave us with a repeat of the failed 1990 budget deal.

In the failed 1990 budget deal, Congressional Democrats convinced a number of Republicans to join them in a bipartisan deal promising $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases.  Every penny of the tax increases ($137 billion from 1991-1995 ) went through. Not only did the Democrats break their promise to cut spending below the CBO baseline—they actually spent $23 billion above CBO’s pre-budget deal spending baseline. 

A BRAC-style spending-only commission as currently under consideration by conservative Members of Congress, on the other hand, has a historic precedent in the World War II so-called “Byrd Committee.” The Joint Committee on Reduction of Non-essential Federal Expenditures was a joint-House-Senate committee set up with the goal of eliminating nonessential expenditures.

Continues Norquist:

We can’t afford to set up a commission the foregone conclusion of which is tax increases, which would only aggravate the situation by draining more money out of the productive private sector of the economy. 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.

Click here for the press release.