Monday, February 28, 2011

Federal Budget: Go After The Tax Expenditures

While Tea Partiers in Congress are having a field day attacking the budget and hoping to ax $$ for various social programs, Democrats are standing around in their usual helpless manner, whining about the cuts but not doing much of anything.

What about going after tax expenditures? In the past decade, Congress, led by Republicans, has enacted hundreds of billions of dollars in special interest tax breaks, better labeled as tax expenditures. Most of these tax breaks are distortions of the "free market" principles the GOP loves to espouse--they elevate one group over another for tax purposes.

We suggest that Democrats draw up a list of tax expenditures to repeal, focusing on those that most narrowly favor Republican interest groups. Dems can then hold a series of high profile votes on repealing these tax expenditures, highlighting the budget deficit reductions that would occur without them.


James Young said...

Uh, letting people keep the money they make is NOT an "expenditure."

Whether it is fair and appropriate tax policy --- I haven't taken a position on it --- is an appropriate topic for debate. But it has nothing to do with robbing Peter to pay Paul ... like most of the Federal budget.

Brian said...

It's not an expenditure in the literal meaning of the word, but the fed paying someone $1,000 is the same thing as giving them a tax credit or deduction amounting to $1,000.

The concept isn't too hard, but once you figure it out, it makes sense why people commonly refer to these policies as "tax expenditures".

Anonymous said...

A tax cut for everyone is one thing, but a tax break for a specific special interest is better labeled as an expenditure because it lowers the government revenue and it has a policy effect (and hopefully a policy goal).