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Tax writers promise 50 years of secrecy for senators’ suggestions

By Bernie Becker

The Senate’s top tax writers have promised their colleagues 50 years worth of secrecy in exchange for suggestions on what deductions and credits to preserve in tax reform.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), assured lawmakers that any submission they receive will be kept under lock and key by the committee and the National Archives until the end of 2064.

Deeming the submissions confidential, the Senate’s top tax writers have said only certain staff members — 10 in all — will get direct access to a senator’s written suggestions. Each submission will also be given its own ID number and be kept on password-protected servers, with printed versions kept in locked safes.

The promise of confidentiality was revealed just two days before the deadline for senators to participate in the Finance Committee’s “blank slate” process, which puts the onus on lawmakers to argue for what credits and deductions should be kept in a streamlined tax code.

A Finance Committee aide said Baucus and Hatch were trying to prove to colleagues that they were making secrecy a priority. Officials on the panel circulated the news to senators in a memo that was dated last Friday.

“The letter was done at the request of offices to provide some assurance that the committee would not make their submissions public,” the aide said. “Sens. Baucus and Hatch are going out of their way to assure their colleagues they will keep the submissions in confidence.”

Keeping the submissions confidential for a half century, the aide added, was “standard operating procedure for sensitive materials, including investigation materials.”

The lengths Baucus and Hatch have gone to reassure their colleagues underscores the importance the tax writers are placing on the blank-slate plan, and it shows they are working hard to ensure that all 100 senators engage in the process.

Baucus told The Hill he fully expects more senators to participate in writing because of the secrecy guarantee.

“Several senators have said to me how important that is to them,” Baucus said. “It’s quite significant.”

It also illustrates the enormous pressure being brought to bear by K Street lobbyists, who are working furiously to protect their clients and the tax provisions that benefit them.

The move raises the stakes for Baucus and Hatch, who stand to lose credibility if the submissions start to leak out despite their vow to keep them in the vault.

Baucus announced this week that the Finance panel would mark up a tax reform bill this fall, after he has a chance during the August recess to consider his colleagues’ submissions. He suggested that the senators who take part in the blank-slate process would have greater influence.

From the start of the process, senators have expressed concerns that Baucus and Hatch wouldn’t be able to keep their proposals private. Given the enormous amount of money on the line — more than $1 trillion a year in tax expenditures are up for possible elimination — blowback from interest groups and businesses could easily derail the process.

The blank slate, some senators argue, forces them to choose sides on tax breaks that can have fervent backers back home and make them appear to be favoring special interests.

Hatch stressed that he still expects a fair number of GOP senators to give him oral suggestions, and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) told The Hill that he thought all Republicans would decide against putting ideas down on paper.

“We’re getting a lot of input regardless,” Hatch said. “All I want is input. I don’t care how they do it, whether it’s in writing or whether it’s personally.”

Under the confidential procedures set by the Finance panel, other committee staffers will only be allowed to handle senators’ suggestions if supervised by at least of the 10 authorized staffers.

Both the Democratic and Republican sides will receive a copy of a submission, and authorized staffers are supposed to log when copies of those proposals are made, who made them and how many.

The submissions can be released publicly, the memo says, if they’re scrubbed of any way of identifying the senator behind them.

But the confidentiality agreement might not be enough to get some senators off the sidelines.

Many have questioned whether it makes sense to move forward on the blank-slate approach when Democrats and Republicans have yet to resolve their long-standing differences about revenue.

While Republicans want the additional revenue from a simplified code to be used solely for lowering tax rates, Democrats want some of the windfall to go toward paying down the deficit.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) stressed that he didn’t think any leaks would come out of the committee, even as he said he didn’t think it would have much impact on what senators actually write.

“If anything comes out, it’s certainly not going to be attributable to the leadership of the committee or the staff,” Cardin said. “It’ll be some other way it comes out, which is always possible.”

Still, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who said that all Republicans were meeting one-on-one with Hatch, added that the two top tax writers were taking a chance.

“I think that, unfortunately for them, people around here tend to believe that anything in Washington — there are no secrets,” Thune said. “But they’re doing their best.”

“That should be somewhat reassuring,” Thune added. “I think people will feel a little bit more freedom.”

Source

Bill Allows IRS To Revoke Second Amendment Rights By Stealth

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Daisy Luther
Infowars.com
April 24, 2012

It looks like the power of the IRS to revoke passports is merely a drop in the tyrannical bucket.

The Senate has voted to approve Bill 1813, which is now on its way to the House.  The insidious bill has so many attacks on freedom that the most serious one has been largely overlooked.

There are two attacks on gun ownership in this bill.  The text of the bill, all 1676 pages of it, can be found HERE.

The first attack on the right to bear arms is found on page 1323.

The Secretary may modify, suspend, or terminate a special permit or approval if the Secretary determines that—(1) the person who was granted the special permit or approval has violated the special permit or approval or the regulations issued under this chapter in a manner that demonstrates that the person is not fit to conduct the activity authorized by the special permit or approval; or (2) the special permit or approval is unsafe.

In the ambiguous language that the Congress so loves to employ in all things unconstitutional, we can translate that to the parental favorite, “Because I said so.”

The second attack on gun ownership is more subtle.

There is a stream of logic that you have to follow.

First, if this bill passes, the IRS will have the authority to take away the passports of those whom they say owe more than $50,000 in taxes.  (The tax debt doesn’t have to be proven, mind you, the IRS simply has to accuse you of owing the money.)  You can find this section on page 1447 of the Bill.

When your passport is revoked by the government, you are suddenly on the “no-fly list”.

Membership in the no-fly club puts you on yet another list, as a potential domestic terrorist.

Domestic terrorists are not allowed to have guns.

Don’t believe me?  Listen to Raul Emanuel gloat of it.  He eloquently states “If you are known as maybe a possible terrorist you cannot buy a handgun in America.” (1:13 of the video)

Uploaded by gshuck on Mar 11, 2009

Terrorist Elite Rahm states that if you are on the govt watch list you have no 2nd amendment rights. There are more than a million people on the list as of 3-11-09, at least one of which is a 5 year old caucasion boy born in the US of parents or born here who’s parents were born here as well as there parents.

Emanuel, the Mayor of Chicago and former Obama Chief of Staff, makes the top of my personal treason list for this statement. In his own words, “maybe a possible terrorist” means you shouldn’t be allowed the rights guaranteed to you as an American. No proof necessary.

Bill 1813, ”Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act”, is chock full of new ways to take away our personal freedoms.  The bill would require “stalker boxes” on our vehicles, puts a huge number of restrictions on travel and transportation within the US, allows the government to revoke documents and licenses in ambiguous language and is, in essence, nearly 1700 pages of new restrictions. (You can find a summary HERE if you don’t want to read all 1676 pages).

A Call to Action

Did your Senator vote for this bill?  There’s a good chance he or she did, as only 22 Senators voted against it.  You can find out how your senator voted HERE.

The bill was sponsored by Barbara Boxer (California) and co-sponsored by Max Baucus (Montana), James N. Inhofe (Oklahoma), and David Vitter (Louisiana). For your convenience, I’ve included links to the contact information for each of these Senators.  Be sure and send an email to let them know how you feel about this new attack on freedom.

Email your Representatives and make it very clear that you consider this Bill an act of treason against the Constitution. This directory contains email addresses and contact information for all members of Congress.

Every bill that goes through Congress right now appears to hold another threat to the Constitution (if not multiple threats).  Every word needs to be carefully analyzed so we can fight these attacks.

Daisy Luther’s blog is Inalienably Yours.

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