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The Republicans are always big on the necessity of reading the bills and this is especially true for the bills they write. We've already heard about the defunding of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, health care reform and all green energy research. But, there's also  a HUGE poison pill in the RSC deficit reduction bill. Go to section 6097. There you find what appears to be a non-controversial section on designating deficit reduction on your income tax form that looks like the Presidential election checkoff. In fact, it replaces it. But, here's what the Presidential election checkoff got changed to:

The Federal budget will be reduced by an amount equal to ten times the amount you elect in the box.

More after the fold.

This is how the checkoff is enforced:

OMB shall apply an across the board reduction in Federal spending in an amount equal to the product of—
((i) the amount calculated under subparagraph (A); [Note: the total amount checked off on the income tax forms] and ‘‘(ii) 10.

That's right ten times the designation is for not deficit reduction but budget reduction. They replaced a checkoff for presidential election to reduce the deficit to a spending cut 10x the amount specified. But wait there's more.

Every individual, regardless of income tax liability for the taxable year, may designate that an amount (not less than $1 and not more than $10) shall be paid over for the purpose of reducing the deficit of the United States.

In other words you don't have to be a taxpayer. But wait there's more.

In the case of each taxable year beginning after 2011, the maximum dollar amount that may be designated under subsection (a) shall be increased by $1. In the case of a joint return of husband and wife, such amount shall increase by $2 each taxable year.’’

The checkoff looks innocuous on your tax forms since it starts at $1 for individual and $2 for couples.  But the clause above is really a $10-$20 increase every year ad infinitum. But wait there's more. The previous budget act expired but this one does not expire.

Notwithstanding section 275(b) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, the expiration date set forth in that section shall not apply to the amendments made by this Act.

But wait there's more. It's all permanent.

Except as provided by paragraph (2), each account of the United States shall be reduced by a dollar amount calculated by multiplying the level of budgetary resources in that account at that time by the uniform percentage necessary to carry out subsection (a). All obligational authority so reduced shall be done in a manner that makes such reductions permanent.

So, anybody who fills out a tax form whether they owe taxes or not can force the President to permanently reduce non-defense discretionary spending each and every year and the checkoff costs them nothing. The original Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act was declared unconstitutional in Bowsher v. Synar because it allowed an official who is accountable to the legislature rather than to the president to execute it. Thus,  the law violated the separation of powers embodied in the Constitution. The people in question here are not even our elected representatives but anyone who fills out a tax form. Even if we elect representatives that are rational in the future this bill would thwart them, taking away the legitimate powers of both the executive and the legislature.

Originally posted to rblinne on Sat Jan 22, 2011 at 03:30 PM PST.

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