Waiting On Tax Reform?

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Chait wants Obama to let the Bush tax cuts expire in 2012 and then rejigger taxes:

I do like the policy goal of broadening the tax base, eliminating favorable treatment for different kinds of income, and lowering the rates. However, the administration isn't going to be able to do this before the question of the Bush tax cuts is settled. A tax reform agreement is going to be premised on being revenue neutral (all or virtually all the proceeds of eliminating loopholes and credits will go toward lower rates) and being distributionally progressive or neutral (the rich will pay an equal or greater share of the tax base.)

The problem is, neither side agrees what base to start from. Republicans are going to want to base that off the status quo, with the Bush tax cuts in effect.

Why not just accept that as a starter and then have a second debate about the level of taxation as a whole? My own view is that targeting and attacking the long-term debt is the key to Obama's next two years. If he punts on debt for these reasons, the GOP will take credit for the tax deal and keep - however unfairly - outflanking him on fiscal conservatism.

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