After moderating a tax policy discussion between four experts, Howard Gleckman delivers their less-than-optimistic conclusions:
Can the income tax fund the government we seem to want? Probably not. Will lawmakers create a revenue system that will? Not anytime soon. …
There seems to be little political will, at the moment, to make major changes in Medicare or Social Security. At the same time, the income tax remains riddled with preferences and other subsidies. As a matter of math (as everyone used to say in the recent campaign), Congress could balance the budget in 2014 by eliminating about half the value of those tax expenditures.
The consensus on a long-term solution:
[S]omeday, the federal government will turn to some form of a consumption tax to help make up the difference. It may be a broad-based levy such as a Value-Added Tax or an energy tax. It might replace the current income tax, or might be added on to the existing system. But given political gridlock, any form of major reform is years away.