Why Tax Reform Won't Happen This Year*

Happy 2011, budget wonks! Do you want to see the tax code overhauled this year? Of course you do. Unfortunately, like most New Year's Resolutions, this is another where it's best to manage your expectations. Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center explains why he's not optimistic about the U.S. getting the reform it needs:

We have learned a lot in recent weeks about who funded those non-profit outfits that plowed tens of millions of anonymous money into this year's congressional campaigns. And much of the cash that found its way into the coffers of successful GOP candidates came from two sources: Wall Street and energy producers--among the biggest beneficiaries of special interest tax breaks. These folks paid good money to protect their subsidies. And I suspect they'll get what they paid for.

Make no mistake, tax reform is going to happen, and relatively soon. But not in Obama's first term. I dearly hope I'm wrong, but I just don't see it.

For the optimists out there, I would still point to the deficit commission, where Sen. Tom Coburn and Sen. Dick Durbin voted on a budget reform platform that would raise taxes fairly significantly on the top percentiles while also raising effective rates on the middle class. That a very conservative senator and a very liberal senator could agree on one full-body surgery plan for the U.S. budget is pretty remarkable. It remains to be seen if that vote was an inflection point for bipartisanship in the Senate, or merely a unique moment.

Read the full TaxVox post here.

*Reverse-jinx edition.