Tax Reform: The Simple, Perfect Budget Fix

Both parties can get what they want: just fix the 'lunatic' tax code, writes Clive Crook
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2011 11:59 AM CDT
Updated Apr 18, 2011 1:51 PM CDT
Fix the Budget Deficit by Reforming the Tax Code: Clive Crook
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio listens as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. speaks to reporters outside the White House this month.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Tax Day is a painful reminder that Form 1040 "is to personal finance as waterboarding is to asking some questions," writes Clive Crook in the Financial Times. But it doesn’t have to be: "If ever there were a free lunch, if ever there were a dollar lying on the sidewalk, it is tax reform," he notes. As the budget battle grows ever more ferocious, a tax code reform compromise could give both sides a win: for the Dems, more revenues, and for the GOP, lower tax rates.

Among the benefits of tax code reform: "It promotes economic growth by reducing intended and unintended distortions," and would both lift America's spirits and cut future deficits. But here's the rub: Both sides would have to give a little. Republicans would have to acknowledge the need for more revenues, while Democrats must “squirm out of their promise never to raise taxes” on the middle class, since many middle-class, rich, and super-rich taxpayers would indeed pay more. Both parties' "instinct is to sharpen their disagreements" when explaining their positions, but in this case, they must "blur them for the sake of compromise," Crook writes. Otherwise, "the worst-case scenario—involuntary fiscal consolidation—will become ever more probable." (More opinion stories.)

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