Yes, There Will Be Taxes


Normally, I think it’s a waste of my time to debate the merits of a bill the day after it’s passed; however, there is so much really confusing information being circulated on the super-committee, that I find it necessary to clear the air.

First of all, Paul Ryan thinks he is being sooo clever by arguing that the use of the current law baseline would require a tax increase to be huge in order to be large enough to trump the baseline assumptions and count toward the $1.5 trillion mandated savings.

Ryan’s argument has a lot of problems, but, since I have only seven sentences, let me point this out: There are NO limits to what the super-committee can do under section 401(b)(3)(A)(i), particularly since all points of order are statutorily waived, and the committee may, for instance, change all of its economic assumptions, thereby rendering Ryan’s argument moot.

Ron Reagan’s argument that a super-committee bill which raises revenues can be filibustered or amended is based on a misreading of section 402(e)(2), which allows the House to “blue-slip” (kill) a Senate-initiated revenue bill and section 404 (which is routine boilerplate). A giant tax increase cannot be filibustered or amended in the Senate, and the Speaker cannot keep it from coming up in the House.

Finally, Mitch McConnell argues that his stellar appointments will insure that the super-committee cannot vote out tax increases. But, given that Harry Reid and Barack Obama are equally adamant about including tax increases –- and given that the trigger ($800 billion in defense cuts) is much too big to pull -– and, finally, given that McConnell has lost his lunch money to Obama again and again and again -– who do you think is going to win that argument?

by Michael E. Hammond, former General Counsel Senate Steering Committee 1978-89.