Tax Law

The Opposite of Tax Reform

Some folks are getting excited about tax reform. The sweeping Wyden-Gregg plan is getting attention. And there are a reports (for example, here and here) that the President's deficit reduction commission could propose cutting back prominent middle class tax benefits--like the mortgage interest deduction and the exclusion for employer-provided health insurance. Well, don't hold your breath. . . .

In current circumstances it would be ludicrous to engage in a major tax reform effort without raising revenue. Lack of bipartisanship and the need for deficit reduction make it a safe bet that getting rid of beloved middle-class tax breaks is not doable.

. . . .

In moments of clarity, many conservatives understand this point and resist temptation. Folks over at the Cato Institute get it. And in today's Washington Post we get a snippet of pro-tax reform talk from--of all people--the next Speaker of the House, John Boehner:

Boehner . . . has embraced the possibility of higher taxes, suggesting in a speech in Cleveland this summer that lawmakers should look at clearing out the "undergrowth of deductions, credits, and special carve-outs" in the tax code that are little more than "poorly disguised spending programs."

But in the mainstream of popular conservatism the knee-jerk response remains the party message: any tax cut--no matter how targeted--is good.

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View TaxAnalysts' Marty Sullivan's opinion in its entirety on


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