As Congress moves forward on budget negotiations, the word out of Washington is to expect nothing major: no grand bargain, just more stopgap, short-term fixes. Yet there’s one ray of hope. The House and Senate chairs of the tax-writing committees, one a Republican, the other a Democrat, are preparing a comprehensive tax reform plan.
They see the budget negotiations as their opportunity to enact much-needed changes to our bloated, off-kilter tax laws.
The last time lawmakers managed to find a way to simplify and reshape the tax code was almost three decades ago, in 1986, when Ronald Reagan was still president. Since then there have been over 15,000 adjustments and amendments, leaving a mess that just about everyone agrees must be cleaned up. Odds are against Congress managing the task, but its handling of the debate on tax reform tells us a lot about how members approach difficult issues.