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Author Topic: Tax reform proposals to be secret  (Read 5064 times)

Nightcrawler

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Tax reform proposals to be secret
« on: July 26, 2013, 11:00:48 am »
http://money.cnn.com/2013/07/25/pf/taxes/tax-reform/index.html?iid=Lead

Tax reform proposals to be secret for 50 years
By Jeanne Sahadi



NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
Tax reform is apparently so treacherous for senators these days that they require the utmost protection from the public -- half a century's worth.

The leaders of the Senate Finance Committee last month asked senators to submit written proposals detailing tax breaks they'd like to see preserved once the tax code is reformed and explain why. The point was to help inform committee leaders in their efforts to craft a tax reform bill.

The request apparently wasn't embraced, and the committee has now promised skittish senators that their proposals will be kept secret for 50 years.

A memo sent out on July 19 promised to mark all submissions "COMMITTEE CONFIDENTIAL. NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION. DO NOT COPY. These materials may not be released to the public from the National Archives or by the Finance Committee prior to December 31, 2064."

What's more, the memo said that in addition to the committee's chairman and top Republican, only 10 staffers would be authorized to see the proposals. Only two digital copies of them would be made. Each would be saved on a secure, password-protected server. Paper copies would be kept in locked safes.

The only way a proposal could be made public before Dec. 31, 2064, is if it "has been modified in such a manner that it could not potentially identify the source of a submission."

It's not clear who made the decision to offer the "committee confidential" designation, but a committee aide said it was "done to alleviate the concerns of senators."

The same aide said "the 50-year rule is the practice for all congressional committees and generally covers oversight and investigative materials and related work product, as well as all nomination materials."

That's news to congressional scholar Thomas Mann, who said he's never heard of the practice and said it sounds "gimmicky."

"It's one thing if they wanted to have some closed hearings for a general discussion before proceeding to an open mark-up. That would be constructive," Mann said.

But by treating the proposals as confidential it means a senator can argue for a tax break on paper but then attack it publicly if that suits his political interests.

And Mann doesn't see how that pushes the debate forward because at some point senators will have to stand up and be counted.

"Plenty of things are classified. But this is different. This is a normal public policy thing," Mann said. "If something then gets included in a package, the member is either going to be for it or against it."

So, how many written proposals has the Finance Committee received so far? No one's saying.

*********

I guess us peons don't need to know what's going on anyway.  Have to pass the law to find out what's in it, right?
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    Langenator

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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #1 on: July 26, 2013, 12:43:54 pm »
    On one hand, I can understand why they'd want to keep the individual proposals under wraps - removing specific tax breaks is kind of like trying to close single military bases, in that any single one is going to have a very vocal special interest group that benifits from that specific break, which will lobby very hard to keep the breaks they now have, and make things very miserable for senators come re-election time if their break gets the ax.

    But at some point, the people need to know what their employees on Capitol Hill are doing.  This stuff isn't national security.  There's no reason to keep it locked up once there's a bill out there for committee to play with.
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    coelacanth

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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #2 on: July 27, 2013, 05:56:44 am »
    Sunlight is the best disinfectant. 
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    Feud

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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #3 on: July 27, 2013, 07:20:21 pm »
    This actually makes a lot of sense.

    Transparency is sometimes good, and sometimes crippling to good government. That's something the founders knew, and thats why not only was the Constitutional Convention closed to the public, but also the notes and minutes were made under the promise that they wouldn't be published until everyone had died.

    Elected people realize that, frankly, sometimes the right thing is unpopular. Secrecy allows them to express their thoughts more openly, saying what they think, and allows for more open and honest debate. Remember when cameras were piut in the Obamacare hearings? Nothing but camera soundbites.

    The actual bill, as always, is public. This is just about suggestions.

    Feud

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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #4 on: July 27, 2013, 07:39:41 pm »
    I do, FWIW, think transparency is important and has a place. I just don't think this particular case is a thing to be concerned over.

    GeorgeHill

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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #5 on: July 27, 2013, 07:40:30 pm »
    Transparency.  Not as clear as you think it is.
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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #6 on: July 27, 2013, 09:29:49 pm »
    Transparency.

    M.I.A.

    Given the current executive environment, it might be that way for a long time.

    If you need protection from your constituents, you're doing something SO wrong you shouldn't be doing it at all.
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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #7 on: July 28, 2013, 12:06:44 am »
    This actually makes a lot of sense.

    Transparency is sometimes good, and sometimes crippling to good government. That's something the founders knew, and thats why not only was the Constitutional Convention closed to the public, but also the notes and minutes were made under the promise that they wouldn't be published until everyone had died.

    Elected people realize that, frankly, sometimes the right thing is unpopular. Secrecy allows them to express their thoughts more openly, saying what they think, and allows for more open and honest debate. Remember when cameras were piut in the Obamacare hearings? Nothing but camera soundbites.

    The actual bill, as always, is public. This is just about suggestions.

    But we no longer have "good government".  I understand the need for secrecy in some cases.  But in no way do I believe that those involved are trying to "do the right thing".
    ArizonaCuriously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.

    RetroGrouch

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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #8 on: July 28, 2013, 12:49:31 am »
    Yeah, people doing the right thing rarely make their thoughts and ideas secret for 50 years (which is longer than the life expectancy of those attending the Constitutional Convention).
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    goatroper

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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #9 on: July 28, 2013, 12:50:08 am »
    VirginiaGoatroper

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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #10 on: July 28, 2013, 01:21:02 am »
    Yeah, people doing the right thing rarely make their thoughts and ideas secret for 50 years (which is longer than the life expectancy of those attending the Constitutional Convention).

    And who says they have to? This certainly doesn't. It just restricts government distribution of those ideas.

    If this were required to be public, then all it would be is campaign lines and posturing.


    scarville

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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #11 on: July 29, 2013, 10:52:10 am »
    If you need protection from your constituents, you're doing something SO wrong you shouldn't be doing it at all.

    Exactly. However, this kind of chicanery is to be expected from a leftist administration. What is amazing is how easily they convinced some that secrecy will lead to better government!
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    Feud

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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #12 on: July 29, 2013, 11:13:08 am »
    Exactly. However, this kind of chicanery is to be expected from a leftist administration. What is amazing is how easily they convinced some that secrecy will lead to better government!


    You think I'm of the opinion that I am because the Obama administration convinced me to be?

    The Obama administration may be big brother, but I don't think they have the capacity to influence constitutional convention procedures.

    Avenger29

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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #13 on: July 29, 2013, 11:25:36 am »
    Do you really believe that this is going to turn out well? (Well if youre a statist, you're gonna love it...)


    This s___ is gonna make Obamacare look like nothing...
    South Carolina
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    Feud

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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #14 on: July 29, 2013, 12:13:59 pm »
    Do you really believe that this is going to turn out well? (Well if youre a statist, you're gonna love it...)


    This s___ is gonna make Obamacare look like nothing...

    Suggestions for lower taxes are statist and are going to make Obamacare look like nothing, or making those suggestions private so that there's a better chance they'll make it to the actual law is statist and will make Obamacare look like nothing?

    I do see the point you're trying to make, I'm just jesting at it. ;)
    « Last Edit: July 29, 2013, 12:36:41 pm by Feud »

    Wolffstarr

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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #15 on: July 31, 2013, 02:50:45 pm »
    Transparency.

    M.I.A.

    Given the current executive environment, it might be that way for a long time.

    If you need protection from your constituents, you're doing something SO wrong you shouldn't be doing it at all.

    Erm.

    If you are a senator from, say, California - a hard-blue state. You have come to the conclusion that we are screwed as a nation unless tax breaks for Unions/Wildlife Protection/Cause Celeb of the Left are ended. You want to make this proposal, but if you do so publically, you are absolutely certain to lose your seat next election.

    You are doing something for the greater good of the nation as a whole, which will cause you to need protection from your constituents.

    This isn't a hard concept to grasp.

    RetroGrouch

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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #16 on: July 31, 2013, 03:49:39 pm »
    No one ever said doing the right thing would be easy or popular.


    Part of doing the right thing is standing up for your actions.
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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #17 on: July 31, 2013, 04:02:46 pm »
    Quote from: Wolffstarr
    If you are a senator from, say, California - a hard-blue state. You have come to the conclusion that we are screwed as a nation unless tax breaks for Unions/Wildlife Protection/Cause Celeb of the Left are ended. You want to make this proposal, but if you do so publically, you are absolutely certain to lose your seat next election.

    Except that suggestions for tax cuts is not what is being solicited.  They are being asked to defend their pet tax breaks from the chopping block.
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    Gunnguy

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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #18 on: July 31, 2013, 06:57:35 pm »
    Hah!
    Taxes are simple.
    You make X...multiply by .08.
    Send in tax to Treasury at Wash. DC. Done.

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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #19 on: July 31, 2013, 09:35:08 pm »
    But wait .  .   .    .   :o   What role does the IRS play in such a system?   
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    Avenger29

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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #20 on: July 31, 2013, 10:45:00 pm »
    Hah!
    Taxes are simple.
    You make X...multiply by .08.
    Send in tax to Treasury at Wash. DC. Done.

    Sent from my LG-LS855 using Tapatalk 2



    Such a system is unacceptable as it does not redistribute wealth to the FSA in exchange for their votes.

    The current "tax system" is actually a voter loyalty scheme. And if you think that the current crop of traitors is trying to keep the proposals secret for legit reasons...you're pretty gullible.
    South Carolina
    I don't THINK I'll ever have to face down routers in the streets.

    I should hope not. Mobs of rogue woodworking tools would suck to repel.

    Feud

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    Re: Tax reform proposals to be secret
    « Reply #21 on: August 01, 2013, 12:46:25 am »
    There's a chance they might be aware of how government works at that level and why, and sees nothing remarkable about this situation.

    Or maybe they are just gullible (although I'm not sure who is supposed to have convinced them, or by what means they conveyed that convincing narrative to them).

    Believe what you like. As far as I'm concerned, this isn't news.
    « Last Edit: August 01, 2013, 01:06:33 am by Feud »

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