The "Super Committee" of six senators and six House members can propose whatever it wants to their colleagues, and those proposals are guaranteed an up-or-down vote by both chambers? No amendments. No filibuster. no kidding.
Everything really is on the table, and the ordinary rules of lawmaking are suspended.
Would you trade cuts in the income tax and corporate tax rates in exchange for a national sales tax?
Don't make a counter offer, just consider the basic proposition: Would it make more sense to raise federal revenue from sales taxes, income taxes, or a mixture of both?
The most disturbing aspect of our current income tax system is that more than a majority of Americans pay no income taxes at all. These citizens can afford to be indifferent to the size and cost of the national government because, outside of payroll deductions, they are not paying any portion of their income to the Feds. In fact this 51% have every incentive to demand more in the way of services and transfer payments because they aren't picking up even a tiny fraction of the costs.
By contrast, a sales tax would fall on every consumer, and if that tax had to be raised to cover the bill, taxpayers across the entire economic spectrum would be obliged to ask whether the services being rendered were equal to the cost in sales taxes paid.
As the new "Super Committee" of 12 sets to it's work it confronts a unique opportunity to rethink the basic approach to federal taxation. Whether it proposes an overhaul depends on many factors, but it ought to at least consider the upside to slashing rates on income, both personal and corporate, and introducing a national sales tax to make up for those lost revenues.
Most of the "tax reform" debate has focused on limiting or eliminating the big three deductions --those for home mortgage interest, charitable giving, and state and local taxes.
To tinker with any of the three is to set off potentially catastrophic economic consequences by crippling home values, or the fiscal integrity of the not-for-profit sector, or the economies of high tax states which would see out-migration soar if the internal revenue code stopped giving their residents a break.
The dozen legislators tasked with presenting a plan for escaping out fiscal nightmare should ask some of their staff to skip those stale debates over this deduction or that subsidy and to instead game out the move to a new system.