Posted by: Joe Eds | December 3, 2010

Tax Reform

Right up there with Social Security, Medicare and (lately) Health Care as one of the third rails of our political culture. President Bush’s decade old tax cuts are about to expire and the House voted this week to extend those cuts to families making less that $250,000 a year. Sorry millionaires.

David Brooks, like millions of other americans, hates our tax code structure and wants to implement a new policy. Specifically, the plan hatched by Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, and Judd Gregg, the outgoing Republican senator from New Hampshire.

The Wyden-Gregg plan simplifies the tax code and reduces the number of rates from six to three. Most taxpayers would be able to use a one-page 1040 I.R.S. form. It preserves some deductions, like the mortgage interest deduction and the child tax credit, but eliminates many others. The Heritage Foundation calculated that the measure would reduce the federal deficit by $61 billion a year and create 2.3 million jobs. The Tax Policy Center found it would make the tax code more progressive and reduce the tax bill for most families making less than $200,000.

In my vision, the president would lay something like this at the feet of the Republicans and ask: Are you ready to have a conversation, or are you the party that can’t say yes?

If only government acted the way most columnists imagined. But they don’t. I like Brooks’ line of logic that the tax code really be the arbiter to bring both parties together. If something “drastic” like the Wyden-Bennett Health Care plan was barely discussed, changing our tax structure I doubt will get much play either.


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