Facebook Twitter

TAX-REFORM GROUP SAYS ORTON DERAILED HOUSE SPENDING CUTS

SHARE TAX-REFORM GROUP SAYS ORTON DERAILED HOUSE SPENDING CUTS

A national tax-reform group blasted Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah, Friday for leading an effort that likely derailed a move for a weeklong spending-cut spree in the House.

Grover C. Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, wrote Orton, saying that "the so-called `compromise' makes it certain that nothing meaningful would take place."Earlier Friday, Orton announced with House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., that they achieved a compromise to avoid what they called a "congressional food fight" where the House would vote for 56 straight hours on cuts with little or no debate as part of the "A to Z" budget-cutting bill.

While Republicans and a few maverick Democrats were signing a petition that would have forced such a free-for-all, Orton wanted more thoughtful review - but wanted guarantees that leadership would allow votes on cuts.

The compromise calls for "open debate" on the House's 13 annual appropriations bills, meaning any member could propose any additional cuts that they wanted to those bills.

The House will also consider for at least two days ways to reduce spending on "entitlements," such as Social Security and Medicare. That may include voting on extending retirement age, reforming cost-of-living-adjustment formulas or reducing benefits to more-wealthy recipients.

Orton also received a commitment for debate before the July Fourth recess to consider budget-process reform, including votes on allowing a line-item veto, putting a cap on entitlements and reforming mechanisms on how to fund emergencies.

Orton said members who had yet to sign the petition to force the free-for-all appeared to support his compromise. But Americans for Tax Reform hate what Orton did.

"Your connivance with the House leadership, after co-sponsoring the original bill, is a clear indication of why the American people do not trust politicians," Norquist wrote to Orton.

"It exposes you as a tool of the entrenched politicians on Capitol Hill and shows you to be more concerned with your personal advancement and a cozy relationship with House leaders than with the good of the country," he said.

He added, "From the beginning, the leadership has tried to sidetrack the A to Z bill. You are merely the last in a long line of pawns sacrificed to the goal of `business as usual' . . . that has gotten us $4.5 trillion in debt."

Orton said he is the one who sought to find a compromise with leaders, and he approached them with ideas on how to achieve the goals of the A to Z plan without having a free-for-all on the House floor.