Yesterday I watched a hearing of the Senate Budget Committee. Member after member took turns making statements, other than that not a damned bit of work was attempted.
Many of those speaking though referenced a single, and to my mind dangerous, theme: We need to simplify the tax code, and we can do that by eliminating or reducing deductions and then lowering and flattening rates.
Sounds simple. Sounds clean. Unfortunately this is Congress of which we are speaking, and they are not to be trusted. Ever.
In 1986, under conservative icon Ronald Reagan, taxpayers were convinced to give up a series of deductions for what was essentially a two-bracket (15% & 28%) tax code. (There was also a clawback provision whereby the extremely rich paid and even 28% on all income, but that effected very few.)
It took Congress only four years to demonstrate that they couldn’t be trusted. In 1990, a new top bracket of 31% was added, and then under Clinton brackets were adjusted and a fourth one tacked on with a 39% tax rate. In essentially a single decade Congress took back everything granted when we gave up our deductions in 1986.
If you believe that it won’t happen again, you are precisely the damned fool that the vultures in Congress want you to be, indeed expect that you are. There can be no tax reform that allows Congress to give voters the bird whenever the mood strikes them. The only effective tax reform must include the repeal of the 16th Amendment, the abolition of the IRS, the institution of a consumption tax with a requirement of a super-majority to increase rates, and the passage of a balanced-budget amendment. Anything short of all four would be a willfull and deliberate fraud on the people. Again.