Any time you hear the word “reform” in American politics, you can be 90 percent certain that you’re being deceived, and when you hear “tax reform,” that little bit of uncertainty should disappear. Everybody wants tax reform, but to conservatives that means further cuts (despite our tax rates being at historic lows), to liberals it means taxing the rich (despite the fact that it would raise insignificant revenue), and to everyone in Congress it would mean preserving the tax breaks that go to their biggest donors.
And it’s the last point that speaks to our nation’s central problem. The great contribution of democracy to the history of civilization was that it broke the age-old link between money and power and redistributed power to everyone, one vote at a time.
What we are now living through is a crisis of counterreformation, in which the corrosive influence of money in our politics, made quasi-legitimate by the Supreme Court’s catastrophic decision in Citizens United, has made the government more responsive to the donor than to the voter. It has made the democracy nearly moot.
This is why we have a population that supports Medicare and Social Security and the Veterans Administration and student loans, to name just a few popular government programs, but we have a Congress that wants to defund them. Our democracy is broken, it was broken by money, and to fix it we must get the money out.
So should our tax code be simplified? Sure. Should loopholes be closed? Of course. But as long as our lawmakers are primarily beholden to fund-raisers and lobbyists, any proposed tax reform will go nowhere."
— DAVID BERMAN in The New York Times
New York, May 9, 2012