More of the "tax day" focus should have been on wasteful tax code spending known as tax expenditures. Tax expenditures are subsidies, tax credits, deductions, exclusions, exemptions and special preferential rates for individuals, business and corporations hidden in the tax code in that, once enacted, they do not have to be reauthorized or included in annual appropriations legislation.
To that end, yesterday in a conference call with Nobel Prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, and policy expert, Seth Hanlon, of the Center for American Progress, I announced my intent to file legislation eliminating nearly 30 tax expenditures that would save over $60 billion in the first year and nearly $483 billion over the next 5 years.
The tax subsidies and giveaways targeted in my bill, entitled the Tax Equity and Middle Class Fairness Act of 2011, serve little or no public purpose, are poorly designed, or have not fulfilled their original intent. My bill would also require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to evaluate the effectiveness of all remaining tax expenditures in current law and report to Congress with recommendations for the elimination of provisions that are poorly targeted or serve no public purpose.
There is broad and bipartisan support for addressing tax expenditures, including the Bipartisan Policy Center's Domenici-Rivlin Commission, Center for American Progress, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Citizens for Tax Justice, Government Accountability Office, Economic Policy Institute, DEMOS, Simpson-Bowles National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, among others.
I believe that we must responsibly address our budget deficit and still make appropriate investments in strengthening our economy. Unlike the House Republican budget proposal, my bill demonstrates that budget savings can be achieved without slashing critical investments in job training and workforce development, health, education or community development programs on which millions of working and middle-class Americans rely.
Over the coming weeks and months, I will fight to pass the Tax Equity and Middle Class Fairness Act of 2011.