Here's Something Congress Could Actually Do

tags: Congress



Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" and "Governing America."

(CNN) -- On the surface, Montana Senator Max Baucus's proposal to reform the corporate tax code seems politically insane. The powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has proposed tightening up the tax treatment of corporate profits overseas. The Senator, along with legislators in both parties, wants to use this proposal as the basis for broader loophole-closing reforms that also tackle the individual tax code.

Given how difficult it has been to pass any piece of legislation in recent years, it seems impossible that Congress will muster the energy or courage to challenge powerful interest groups that benefit from the status quo and to reform the tax code.

While loophole-closing tax reform might be good policy, it is hard to see how it can be good politics. "This is a big rock to push up the hill," warned Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden.

But in fact there is reason to believe that tax reform might have a chance to pass. The proposal comes at a good time. Congress is stuck in the mud. As an institution, Congress needs a big victory. Polls show that the approval ratings of Congress have reached all-time lows, now having fallen to an abysmal nine percent....



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