Tax reform?

Interesting piece with an absurd headline in TNR a couple days ago.  The headline?  “The Only Way Obama can in in 2012.”  Please– the answer is not the tax reform the article addresses, it’s quite simply decent economic growth.  Tax reform would be great, but we can certainly get decent economic growth without.  Okay, now that I’ve cleared my chest on that, onto the substance:

There’s only one way out, which fortunately combines good policy with good politics. Obama should seize the initiative by moving comprehensive tax reform to the center of his agenda. He could argue—correctly, in my view—that the current tax code is far too complex, treats millions of average families unfairly, and constitutes an impediment to economic growth. Building on an emerging bipartisan consensus, he could go on to advocate a plan that broadens the base of the system while reducing rates—a formula that applies to both individual and corporate taxes. And he could challenge both parties to join with him to make a reformed code the law of the land during the 112th Congress.

I think Tax Reform is a great idea for Obama to really run with.  Its harder to argue with lower rates and a broader base unless you are one of the corporations, etc., currently benefiting from one of the loopholes in current law, which really needs to go.   This is smart policy that truly both parties should agree on.  That said, when was the last time Republicans agree with a sensible policy that had the temerity to be supported by Democrats?  That said, I’m not exactly optimistic on this score.  Still, it would be an interesting banner for Obama to take up– essentially daring Republicans to join him in the matter of lowering tax rates.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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