Does the Baseline Box In the Committee?

by Rich Lowry

One argument I’m hearing from Hill types favorably inclined to the emerging deal is this (obligatory disclaimer — I’m not a budget wonk): The special committee will have real trouble recommending tax increases because it will work off the “current law” baseline that assumes the expiration of the Bush tax cuts etc. for $39 trillion in revenue over the next decade. So any tax increase the committee recommends will have to be an increase on top of all the tax increases already baked in the cake and therefore truly massive from the perspective of “current policy.” Also, working off the “current law” baseline will make Gang of 6-style gamesmanship — where tax hikes are sold as tax cuts — impossible; it will eliminate the baseline ambiguity on which the Gang of 6 depended for its dishonest advertising. Republicans think this may all but force the committee to recommend cuts rather than tax increases.

UPDATE:

A friend on Capitol Hill e-mails that this is fine as far as it goes, but it only applies to the individual side, not the corporate side of things, meaning oil and gas, corporate jets, etc., are fair game.