The Unlikelihood of Sensible Tax Reform
 
I have no expectation that any "tax reform" that emerges from our present government will come anything close to the tax reform we ought to have in this country.

First, the GOP version of tax reform is unlikely to be much more imaginative than lowering taxes for corporations and the wealthy. This version of tax reform reflects the repeatedly discredited GOP claim that lowering these taxes will stimulate the economy, creating more good jobs for the working classes. The primary effect of tax cuts for the wealthy will be to widen further the country's corrosive economic inequality.

Second, the GOP version of tax reform is unlikely to rid us of the bloat of accumulated provisions added over decades to help particular taxpayers — so-called tax expenditures. Congress won't have the gumption to stand up to the K Street suits pressing for the retention of this tax break or that one.

Third, the GOP version of tax reform is unlikely to take seriously the imperative of making the whole system radically simpler for the average person. TurboTax and the rest, and of course the accounting and legal professions, have vested economic interests in retaining tax complexity.

Fourth, the GOP version of tax reform is unlikely to include any serious consideration of alternatives to the income tax. Many other countries use the value-added tax. If it's so popular, maybe we should have a national debate about adopting some version of it. Economists have long advocated the adoption of something called the land value tax. Should we adopt some version of it, if not at the federal level then as an alternative to current state and local taxes? Why aren't we talking about it?