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Re: The Politics of Eliminating Deductions


Nick, I have no expertise in the art of passing legislation. I’ll leave that to people who move legislation for a living. All I aim to do is to point out the direction that reform ought to go.  

That said, comprehensive reform doesn’t have such a great track record. The 1986 tax reform was wonderful . . . and completely undone over time. On the other hand, I can find plenty of examples where obnoxious tax credits were killed in relative isolation, never to return again. The infamous oil-depletion allowance for vertically integrated oil majors is one example that immediately comes to mind. Waiting two or three decades for the transient “big bang” reform to come and go seems like an excuse for inaction to me.

That said, the goal (for conservatives anyway) should not be to reduce taxes to the greatest extent possible. The goal should be to reduce the size of government to the greatest extent possible. The two are not the same; to spend, after all, is to tax. If reducing the size of government is the goal, then we can only achieve this goal by eliminating unwarranted expenditures — whether they are direct expenditures through the budget process or tax expenditures through deductions like this.


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