House Rules Change Clears Way for Tax Increases; Foes Chide Pelosi's Procedural Move despite Campaign Pledge

Article excerpt

Byline: Donald Lambro, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

One of the first key procedural votes in the Democrat-controlled House last week established legislative rules that Republicans say will make it easier to raise taxes by a simple majority vote.

The straight party-line vote received little attention Thursday as Rep. Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, was elected speaker of the House. But Republican leaders and conservative tax-cut advocates said it opened up a huge loophole in a Republican-imposed rule drawn from the Republicans' 1994 Contract with America, which requires a supermajority, or three-fifths vote, to raise taxes.

Democrats unanimously voted down a motion offered by Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio that would have prevented them from waiving the rule, a move that tax-cutters said signaled the Democrats' intention to raise taxes between now and the 2008 elections.

"American taxpayers need to hold on to their wallets because the new House rules concerning taxes are not worth the paper they're written on," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR).

"After spending an entire year on the campaign trail claiming she will not raise taxes, the first vote Nancy Pelosi brings to the floor for a vote as speaker will open the door to billions and billions of dollars of tax increases over the next two years," Mr. Norquist said.

Many liberal Democrats vowed in the midterm election campaigns to repeal the Bush tax cuts for those in the top income-tax brackets, and party leaders already have scheduled a vote to eliminate tax breaks for oil companies, which would effectively raise taxes on the nation's energy-producing corporations.

"The Democrats have a more established record of wanting to raise taxes than Republicans do. …