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.