Tax_expenditures_total

by Patrick Appel

Nicole Gelinas wants Romney-Ryan to eliminate the biggest two:

Employers’ paying for workers’ health care out of money that they would otherwise pay in salary makes it impossible to create a real market for individual health insurance. Only when the majority of working Americans see how much health insurance actually costs for the little that they get, and stop thinking of it as a perk of working for the Man, will we finally see real health-care reform. The result would be a system in which people used their own money to buy health care on an open market, just as they buy almost everything else. (Congress would still have to take some protective measures, such as outlawing price discrimination—a doctor’s or hospital’s charging different prices for customers depending on their insurance profiles.)

The mortgage-interest deduction also distorts the American economy. Between 2000 and 2007, mortgage debt doubled, and the government subsidized much of that borrowing. People could buy houses that they couldn’t afford and justify the purchases by saying they were lowering their taxes. Washington’s treatment of mortgages has created a vicious cycle, with cheap debt pushing up house prices and requiring still more cheap debt to fund home purchases.

Drum, who provides the chart above, doubts Romney and Ryan will trim tax expenditures significantly. Howard Gleckman takes Ryan more seriously:

Like Romney, Ryan won’t say exactly how [he will cut back tax deductions, credits, and exclusions]. But unlike the man at the top of the ticket, I get the sense Ryan can’t wait to do so. In our 2009 interview, he spoke with great enthusiasm about how he’d defeat the lobbyists who protect these tax breaks.