Jonathan Alter for Bloomberg: Coming Lobbyist Brawl May (Really) Fix Our Taxes

August 10th, 2011

Bloomberg View
By Jonathan Alter
Aug 4, 2011

Lobbyists, of all people, may soon inadvertently bring us what lobbyists have long fought against – – a flatter, simpler tax code that offers fewer gifts for special interests. As a bonus, it would also help bring down the deficit.

To understand why this happy result may be in reach, we must return to a subject you’re sick of: the much-maligned deal Congress struck to lift the debt ceiling. That deal set up a process that might not advantage the forces of extortion in the same way the old one did.

The new law cuts about $900 billion in discretionary spending and establishes a 12-person “supercommittee” to find $1.5 trillion in additional savings over 10 years. At least they’ll be looking in the right places: tax reform and entitlement reform. With a mere majority of the 12 required, they must present a bill to Congress for an up-or-down vote (no amendments) by Christmas. If the bill fails, the now-famous triggers will automatically cut $1.2 trillion, half from defense and half from non-defense programs, including Medicare.

Read more