Planet Money's fake presidential candidate would not be pleased.
The Senate's top tax writers' "blank slate" approach to tax reform was supposed to give Congress the chance to throw out all tax breaks and start fresh. Instead, lawmakers and lobbyists are using their confidential and off-the-record testimony and letters of support to ask for brand new or expanded tax breaks in addition to the old.
It's a boondoggle that illustrates the difficulty of sorting through hundreds of breaks, which now cost the federal government more than $1 trillion a year and complicate a tax code that's already four million words long. ...
The real-estate industry, represented by the National Association of Realtors, wants two temporary tax credits made permanent, even though the existing mortgage-interest deduction already is one of the costliest tax breaks on the books. ...
It's not surprising. Behind every tax break is an ally in Congress, a team of lobbyists, or a powerful corporate-backed tax coalition, after all.
Read the full story.