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Vote Alert

NTU Encourages "NO" Vote on Newest Budget Control Act of 2011.

August 1, 2011

Despite being strengthened in several important ways, the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) cannot recommend support for the most recent version of the Budget Control Act of 2011 because it does not give sufficient impetus to enact the most important principle of the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” coalition, one that NTU and its members have sought for some 40 years: a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to our Constitution.

We commend House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for their tireless work in pursuit of greater and more enforceable spending restraint. The inclusion of $900 billion in program reductions subject to immediate sequestration and the new “trigger” mechanism which affects both defense and Medicare expenditures will provide strong incentives, rather than vague directives, for Congress to live up to the total claim of $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction.

Unfortunately, this bill has also been weakened in one extremely important way since a version of it passed the House of Representatives: it no longer requires passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment in order to unlock the second tranche of debt ceiling increase. It does establish the BBA as a “fallback” option should the legislation’s new joint committee for deficit reduction fail, but that is regrettably not an adequate consolation for proponents of fundamental, structural budget reforms since such a vote could easily be avoided.

Furthermore, the joint select committee the legislation establishes still suffers from the flaw of allowing for tax increases in the future. Proponents of the bill claim that use of the Congressional Budget Office’s current law baseline will make tax increases difficult or impossible, but that applies largely to alterations of marginal income tax rates. Nothing stops the committee from recommending the elimination or reduction of credits, exemptions, or deductions in a way that would raise hundreds of billions in new revenue to fund Washington’s spending. Overburdened taxpayers may be forgiven for their concern that a united push for such tax increases (as opposed to natural revenue growth from tax reform) could overcome opposition on the committee or from Republicans.

Because it does not adequately provide for actual passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment and still holds potential for tax increases, NTU cannot support the Budget Control Act. A “NO” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer position in our annual Rating of Congress.

If you have any questions, please contact NTU Vice President of Government Affairs Andrew Moylan at (703) 683-5700