Grover Norquist, the founder of Americans for Tax Reform, is leading an coalition of conservative groups opposed to a plan for a bipartisan fiscal commission advanced by the House Budget Committee on Jan. 18. U.S. Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT) is among advocates of that plan. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call — Courtesy of Facebook).

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A proposal from the House Budget Committee to create a bipartisan fiscal commission to provide solutions to the federal government’s debt crisis is drawing fire from conservative advocacy groups.

The Budget Committee voted 22-to-12 on Jan. 18 to advance the idea of the fiscal commission, with three Democrats from the panel joining its Republican majority.

Those voting in favor of the debt commission included U.S. Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT).

But Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and other conservative advocacy groups have since banded together to oppose the proposed fiscal commission. In an early February letter to congressional lawmakers, those groups call the fiscal commission “… a tax trap designed to get Republican fingerprints on a tax increase in exchange for spending cuts that never materialize.”

The fiscal commission proposal – which was included in the House committee’s budget markup on Jan. 18 — would create a 16-member fiscal commission with membership evenly divided between House and Senate members as well as Republicans and Democrats. The panel will also include four non-voting members of the public.

The commission would be charged with writing a report and drafting legislation to improve the long-term fiscal condition of the federal government.

But ATR founder Grover Norquist condemns that commission, which would also be endowed with the power to fast-track pie-in-the-sky deficit reduction measures that seldom live up to their promises.

Moore has defended the fiscal commission idea in an op-ed published in the inside-the-Beltway journal The Hill.

“Over the next decade,” he argued, “according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, our annual federal deficits are on pace to double, our interest payments will triple and, for every dollar we borrow, 50 cents will go just to paying interest on this debt.”

While the national debt now stands at $34 trillion, Moore said that there are two major stumbling blocks to congressional progress on the fiscal crisis. The first is lack of political motivation and the second is fear of voter retaliation, both of which could be solved by “… a congressional debt commission with real authority and accountability.”

Norquist and his allies dispute that, saying that any tax proposals by the fiscal commission would likely be used to undermine efforts to extend former President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cuts when they expire in 2025.

Furthermore, they argue that there is no need for a fiscal commission to explain the problem driving our national debt.

“We already know that the problem is spending,” their letter to congressional lawmakers stated.

A fiscal commission, they argued, “will only serve to provide cover for Democrats to impose tax increases.”

Budget deals negotiated during the Reagan and Bush administrations promising $2 and $3 spending cuts for every dollar of increased taxes never materialized, according to Norquist.

Advocates of the fiscal commission point to the 2010 National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which drew praise for formulating a comprehensive deficit reduction plan that combined speeding cuts with revenue increased.

Despite that plan’s far-sightedness, it went down in flames after members of that commission failed to advance it to a congressional vote.

“A bipartisan debt commission will guard against demagoguery and self-serving political agendas,” Moore argued in his op-ed. “This is necessary if we want Republicans and Democrats to embark on a politically risky endeavor …” to address the federal deficit.

In addition to Americans for Tax Reform, the early February letter to members of Congress opposing the debt commission was signed by representatives of the conservative groups Club for Growth, American Commitment, Center for a Free Economy, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Independent Women’s Voice and the Job Creator’s Network.

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