If there is one big-ticket budget item on which Democrats and Republicans should be able to find common ground, it’s tax breaks. Each of the various bipartisan deficit panels has called for a big reduction, saying such breaks — exemptions, deductions, credits and other loopholes — are inefficient and unaffordable. All told, they cost the federal government about $1.2 trillion in lost revenue last year. As it happens, the budget deficit was $1.3 trillion.
Why else is getting rid of tax breaks a good idea? For one, economists say many of them slow growth by forcing individuals and businesses to waste time complying with the tax code. A tax code with lower rates and fewer loopholes would almost surely be more efficient. Meanwhile, from a political perspective, some Republicans who oppose just about any tax increase think cutting tax breaks is an acceptable way for the government to refill its coffers.
Complexity and importance. A prescription for getting nowhere, most likely.