by George F. Will
Attempting comprehensive tax reform is like trying to tug many bones from the clamped jaws of many mastiffs. Every provision of the code — now approaching 4 million words — was put there to placate a clamorous faction, or to create a grateful group that will fund its congressional defenders. Still, Washington will take another stab at comprehensiveness, undeterred by the misadventures of comprehensive immigration and health-care reforms. Consider just one tax change that should be made and certainly will not be….
Dismayed U.S. homebuilders foresee a 6.4 percent increase; U.S. lumber interests say that is an exaggeration. Even allowing for theatricality on both sides, lumber protectionism will certainly deepen two problems: Because the mortgage interest deduction enables higher housing prices, Americans will continue to pour too much wealth into housing. And inequality will be exacerbated. Homeownership is crucial to the accumulation of wealth. But as social scientist Joel Kotkin writes, millennials are caught in a pincer of low incomes — the Census Bureau estimates that even those with a full-time job earn $2,000 less in real dollars than the same age cohort did in 1980 — and high housing prices. Kotkin says “homeownership rates for people under 35 have dropped 21 percent” since 2004.
Excerpted from the Washington Post. Read the rest of the article here.