And why should mortgages on second homes be deductible? Simpson-Bowles explicitly put that on the table.
Then there's the deduction for state and local taxes. This is a subsidy for high-spending states and cities and for the public employee unions that rule the roost there.
High earners in such states have been voting Democratic for most of the last 20 years. Evidently they don't mind paying higher taxes.
Republicans, including Romney and Ryan, have explicitly endorsed extracting more revenues from high earners who, they point out, benefit disproportionately from such deductions. They just don't want tax rates to go up because that works against job creation.
The biggest obstacle to 1986-style tax reform is Barack Obama. In his acceptance speech, he reiterated his call for higher tax rates on high earners.
That's as much of a deal-killer for Republicans as his late-in-the-day insistence on $400 billion in additional revenues in the August 2011 grand bargain negotiations, documented once again in Bob Woodward's "The Price of Politics."
Obama also said he wouldn't agree to limit the home mortgage deductions for "middle class families." That could be a deal-killer too.
Republicans will never agree to higher tax rates because the last Republican leader to do so, the first George Bush, wound up getting 37 percent of the vote. Demanding that they do so makes any bipartisan solution impossible.
Other Democrats seem more flexible than Obama. Virginia Sen. Mark Warner spoke approvingly of a Simpson-Bowles tax reform in the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Tennessee Rep. Jim Cooper has endorsed the whole Simpson-Bowles report.
Woodward reports that during the grand bargain negotiations, congressional leaders of both parties voted Obama "off the island." Voters who want Simpson-Bowles-type tax reform can do that in November.
Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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