I want tax reform in the United States. I know I’m not alone. For example, this editorial by Ed Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation, discusses the guidelines of a sensible approach. Simplicity, fairness, and all that. I agree. I just don’t understand how the wishful thinking extends to betting on Sen. Ron Wyden as (potentially) the man to deliver real reform.
I discussed Sen. Wyden’s plan in the past. I reached an unfavorable conclusion that he’s the guy to reform anything. As Mr. Feulner mentions, Sen. Wyden is concerned with crafting a legacy. The correct goal is to overhaul the federal tax code. Expecting credit for it is the dream of a politician, not a leader. Fixing what needs to be fixed is in Sen. Wyden’s job description. Does he want a cookie and a medal, too, if he enacts tax reform?
Wyden says he wants to help deliver this fairer, flatter system, but that will require real persistence. He has, alas, disappointed tax reformers before. This is the same man who voted to repeal the death tax in 2002 but flip-flopped this year and voted to keep that pernicious tax alive. And if we look at the fine print of his tax-reform plan, it appears that he’s better at rhetoric than real change. His so-called reform would leave tax rates at 35 percent and actually increase the double-taxation of savings and investment.
But if Wyden abandons class-warfare politics and fights for the right sort of reform, he could have a chance to join the political immortals. He also could help all taxpayers and improve the American economy at the same time. Fixing the tax code will be difficult, but it’s not impossible. It’s time to get it done.
I agree with the last three sentences of that excerpt. The sentences that preceeded it suggest I’d have better luck at generating economic growth by wagering my savings on the Phillies in a Vegas casino than by counting on Sen. Wyden to deliver on the promise. I stand by my original assessment of his reform leadership.