The Post has been spreading misinformation about the role of Ways and Means Republicans in the budget reconciliation process. Through editorials and news stories, The Post has misrepresented our position, and we -- on behalf of all the Ways and Means Republicans -- would like to help set the record straight.
First, we did not, as The Post and some others mistakenly reported, boycott or walk out of any Ways and Means meeting. We did not "strike"; we were locked out. At the first committee revenue markup, we indicated our opposition to the package presented, whereupon the chairman adjourned the meeting "subject to the call of the chair."
When the chair called, we answered and were presented on the second occasion not only with massive tax increases amounting to $12 billion the first year and nearly $60 billion over the next three years, but wholly new expenditures totaling an estimated $5 billion through 1992.
Second, we are (and have been) strongly in favor of substantial deficit reduction. We supported the recent Gramm-Rudman-Hollings "fix," which requires that the deficit be cut by about $23 billion for fiscal 1988.
Third, the new law states clearly that the reduction can be effected through reconciliation legislation, sequestration of funds (an across-the-board cut in all eligible federal programs) or a combination of the two. It does not call, explicitly or implicitly, for a 1988 tax increase of $12 billion, or any amount. That figure and that requirement came from the House Democratic leadership, and as Republicans, we do not feel any compulsion to agree blindly, as Post editorials suggested we should do because it is the only solution Post writers see to deficit reduction.
Fourth, we were told, before the committee met to consider revenues, that there would be no "chairman's mark" from which to work and that we would, in effect, be starting from scratch. But when the markup began, we were presented with a package of tax changes designed to produce about $8 billion. We were informed that the rest of the $12 billion would be developed later. We declined to support what amounted to part of a "pig in a poke," as we explained at the time.
Fifth, we strongly opposed reopening and revising the 1986 Tax Reform Act, as this latest package would do. There was a general agreement, to which many Democrats agreed, to leave the new tax code alone for at least a few years. The new legislation renders that agreement meaningless.
Sixth, the final revenue package we were asked to ratify was to be accompanied, we learned, by a multibillion-dollar welfare bill plus other new expenditures. Not only were House Democrats apparently to cut spending further, they seemed determined to spend even more -- and all of this in an exercise ostensibly aimed at deficit reduction.
Seventh, we are appalled that The Post -- and other publications as well -- has, in the process of castigating us for not meekly going along with the Democratic leadership, ignored some really startling aspects of the reconciliation story.
A prime example was the refusal of the Democratic majority to let us see the statutory language of the revenue package on which we were asked to pass judgment in committee. That members of Congress should be asked to vote on something they had neither seen nor participated in developing is, to say the least, chilling. It is the sort of scandalous procedure that usually becomes headline material. This time it did not, and we wonder why. We also wonder what political payoffs were included in these hidden materials. Doesn't The Post wonder about that too?
In summary, we want to reemphasize our very, very strong belief that our federal deficit is too large, that it should be reduced substantially and that we are not only willing, but anxious, to participate in a sensible bipartisan effort to achieve that goal. We just do not believe that the job has to be done primarily at the expense of the American taxpayer.
JOHN J. DUNCAN U.S. Representative (R-Tenn.) BILL ARCHER U.S. Representative (R-Texas) Washington