A Lobbyist’s Dream: Senate Guaranteed 50 Years’ Secrecy On Tax Reform Ideas
July 29, 2013 by Ben Bullard
Senate leaders have collaborated to secure a supposedly airtight 50-year guarantee of secrecy from the Finance Committee not to publicly disclose tax reform proposals from all 100 Senators, nor reveal the lobbying pressures influencing many of their suggestions, ahead of major tax reform legislation to be written this fall.
The agreement, forged by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-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,” according to The Hill.
In other words, the American public can find out all the ways the government defrauded them to protect politically active corporations after everyone in the Senate is dead.
Baucus and Hatch will co-sponsor tax reform later this year. Ostensibly, their vow of secrecy is intended to ensure all members of the Senate feel equally free to involve themselves in what could be a ground-up rewrite of the tax code. If it has the side effect of concealing the Senators’ true motives for positing changes in the way the Nation’s wealth is being redistributed, well, that’s unintentional.
From The Hill:
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.
…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.
Only 10 staffers will be authorized to review Senators’ suggestions, each of which is to be assigned a unique ID number and stored on password-protected computers servers on both the Democrat and Republican sides. Hard copies are to be kept in locked safes.
That’s a lot of skullduggery just to make sure Americans have a tough time figuring out the obscure connections that link Senators in landlocked rural States with lobby-backed proposals — to envision just one relatively benign example — to offer major breaks to coastal industries far from their constituent base. With one less way of monitoring backroom agreements between government and private influence, expect the Nation’s tax code to fester into an even uglier, more confusing, more inequitable mess. Outrageously, the Senate is doing its best to make sure there won’t be anywhere to lay the blame.