Is Washington Ready to Talk Tax Reform?

A senior official from the Treasury Department shot down the idea of broad tax reform in 2011 when I brought it up at a blogger meeting a few months ago. But you have to think that an issue that unites Democratic Senators, Republican-cheering magazines and moderate think tanks has a shot at making the floor of the Senate.

This is where you point out that there's a difference between "Consensus to have a debate" and "Consensus in the debate." The Weekly Standard's idea of tax reform probably doesn't look like the Brookings Institution's, and Ron Wyden's idea of tax reform won't fly with the lobbyists who have fought to build the constellation of corporate tax giveaways that Sen. Wyden wants to eliminate in exchange for lowering corporate tax rates for everybody.

Tax reform is the issue that can break the bipartisan stalemate, Sen. Wyden told deficit conference two weeks ago. Even if Treasury is reluctant to pick up another Big Policy Issue in 2011, it's interesting to see that the rest of the inner-Beltway crowd sounds like it's ready to talk taxes.