Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Politico, Tax Committee Transforms Into Fort Knox:
Senate Finance Committee leaders have a message for their anxious colleagues: Your secret is safe with us.
In a memo to the tax staffer for every senator, committee officials said they’re going to great lengths to make sure that tax reform submissions, which are due to the panel on Friday, won’t leak.
For starters, the committee says submissions will be sealed by the panel and the National Archives until Dec. 31, 2064. Today’s fiscal policy fights, which have an endless feel about them, should be less relevant by then.
But staffers are taking other measures to transform the Finance Committee into Washington’s version of Fort Knox. The documents will receive unique identifying numbers, a confidential seal and a special encryption. Paper copies of each proposal will be kept in a safe. And beyond Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking Republican Orrin Hatch, only 10 staffers will have any sort of access to the proposals.
The unusual tactics speak to the high stakes of the so-called blank slate approach to tax reform Baucus and Hatch are pursuing. They’re starting from scratch in their pursuit of a new tax system and they’ve given their colleagues until Friday to explain which tax provisions should stay on the books.
That’s put senators in the uncomfortable position of defending — or choosing not to defend — breaks with powerful constituencies. Many lawmakers have said they’re reluctant to play ball, worried about picking winners or losers and concerned that those choices might later be held against them.
- The Hill, Senators Are Promised 50 Years of Secrecy for Tax Reform Proposals
- Tax Analysts Blog, Our Secretive Senate, by Christopher Bergin