New House Rules May Hamstring Deficit Reduction

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Nicole Tichon, Tax and Budget Reform Advocate
(202) 546-9707
ntichon@pirg.org

New House Rules May Hamstring Deficit Reduction

WASHINGTON - Statement of U.S.
PIRG Tax and Budget Reform Advocate Nicole Tichon
on the new rules
package to be considered today in the U.S. House of Representatives,
specifically the provisions around the budget.

"While the new Congressional
leadership's focus on federal budget deficits is admirable,
‘cut-go' provisions that exempt special interest carve-outs and
corporate tax loopholes from the accounting process will only handcuff the
ability of Congress to seriously tackle the budget problem. 

"Further, the specific provisions barring
discussion of wasteful handouts through the tax code -- handouts that were
fought for and won by armies of narrow interest lobbyists -- remove from
consideration a significant number of solutions that have broad public
support.

Under the proposed rules:

  • Attempts
    to shut down off-shore tax havens cannot be considered in discussions of
    deficit reduction. These havens cost taxpayers an estimated $100 billion per
    year and go to those who benefit from access to American markets, workforce,
    security and infrastructure but pay little or nothing as they ship profits overseas.
  • Tax
    expenditures that flow to BP, Exxon and others in the oil and gas industry
    are off the table. These tax breaks provide unnecessary incentives as they
    largely underwrite activities the companies would willingly do on their
    own.
  • Ill-advised
    loopholes carved out of the tax code that let multi-millionaire hedge fund
    managers pay dramatically reduced tax rates - far less than the average
    American - are exempt from discussions on solving our deficit problem. This loophole has
    been criticized across the political spectrum from Paul Krugman to Pete
    Peterson.

"The proposed new rules have the dangerous
potential to undo recent bipartisan progress, including
recommendations of the Fiscal Commission to close a number of tax loopholes.
Some of the few moments of bipartisan agreement in recent memory can be
attributed to the need to end special interest influence and reform the tax
code. These rules may in fact thwart the rising awareness that wasteful
spending through the tax code is no different than wasteful spending through
the appropriations process. 

"Closing ill-advised tax loopholes, ending
special interest carve-outs and corporate tax breaks do not equate to
tax increases. Turning a blind eye to this type of waste and forbidding these
common sense reforms has the potential to undermine any serious steps toward
a sustainable federal budget. 

"We urge the House to reject these
provisions." 

###

U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), stands up to powerful special interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being. With a strong network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students in state capitols across the country, we take on the special interests on issues, such as product safety,political corruption, prescription drugs and voting rights,where these interests stand in the way of reform and progress.

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