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GOP Sponsors of Spending Task Force Didn’t Know It Allowed for Tax Hikes? Not Likely

The official line coming from the six GOP senators who sponsored, then voted against, the failed proposal to create a deficit commission was that they didn’t realize it would allow the panel to suggest tax hikes as a step toward balancing the federal budget.

A spokesman for Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), for example, told Politico that the senator withdrew his support “over concerns that the commission will be able to raise taxes.” The offices of Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) said exactly the same thing.

What’s fascinating about that argument is this: Sens. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and Kent Conrad (RD-N.D), the heads of the Budget Committee, have been pushing their task force idea for years, and a central element of the proposal has always been that everything would be on the table — tax hikes, benefit cuts and everything in between. Here’s their statement from 2007, which indicates that the commission “will analyze all potential solutions.” And here’s a summary of their more recent bill, which clearly states that “all options will be considered by the Task Force.” It’s a concept that practically defines the bill.

So either (1) the six Republican flip-floppers are lying and voted against the commission solely under pressure from GOP leaders to deny the Obama White House a legislative victory, or (2) they threw their support behind a proposal they knew nothing about. Neither explanation says great things about their leadership skills — and both are indications of why Americans think Washington is broken.

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