MY VIEW: Bob Packwood
As the Senate Finance Committee looks to take up tax reform, one of the higher ranking members on the Committee who will likely shape the process is Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who has already authored a bipartisan tax reform plan with Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN). In today's Oregonian, Wyden's predecessor, former Senator and CRFB boardmember Bob Packwood (R-OR) expains the need for a rewrite of our nation's complicated and ineffective tax code. As a veteran of the 1986 reform, he argues that a similar effort is far overdue:
...many of the gains made in cleaning up the tax code 27 years ago -- made possible through bold leadership and bipartisan compromise -- have gone by the wayside. Deductions, exclusions and other preferences have returned over time in the form of roughly $1.3 trillion in annual backdoor spending that now litters the tax code.
Packwood commends Wyden for championing a bipartisan, pro-growth approach to reform. He also approves of the "blank slate" approach taken by Baucus and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and believes this development could lead to the comprehensive reform we need. Writes Packwood:
All told, this is undoubtedly a positive step, because we indeed need to reform our tax code, which is littered with expensive, regressive and economically distorting deductions and credits that increase complexity, reduce fairness and let the government pick winners and losers. A blank slate would eliminate egregious deductions, improve simplicity and fairness, encourage economic growth and help reduce the deficit.
As a subject-matter expert, I applaud the proposed "blank slate" approach because it will require advocates of tax preferences to justify the existence of their favored preference rather than requiring policymakers to justify each reform. It will also force policymakers to agree that tax preferences have a cost: More tax expenditures mean higher rates, larger deficits, or both.
When members of Congress return to work after Labor Day, I hope they take this issue very seriously within the context of budget negotiations. The time is now for leaders to lead and do what I was able to do in 1986 on the backs of bipartisan compromise. Inaction is simply not an option any longer.
Click here to read the full op-ed.
"My Views" are published by members of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, but they do not necessarily reflect the views of all members of the committee.