Neither party will talk about it now, but there will be major changes made to the federal tax code no matter who wins this November's election.
While the Republicans may be chanting "no new taxes" in unison and the Democrats are pledging to "tax the rich," neither of those simpleton solutions will come close to solving the fiscal mess in Washington.
Trillion-dollar deficits require simplifying our current multi-thousand page tax code and getting rid of breaks for special interest groups. Cutting programs alone is not going to close the gap - we are all going to be paying more in taxes and there is going to be a revolt if the breaks that are hidden in that massive volume remain.
As we've written here previously, the only breaks we believe need to stay for individuals are the deduction for home mortgage interest and the per person exemptions. The housing market will collapse if the mortgage interest deduction is eliminated.
With businesses, Congress should address making it easier for small entrepreneurs (including farmers) to keep the enterprise in the family. Survivors should not have to sell the business to pay estate taxes.
The new code needs to be kept simple, fair and honest. No more big breaks for special interests.
In any event, the recommendations of the bipartisan Presidential Commission (the National Commission of Fiscal Responsibility and Reform) headed by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson are a good starting point.
It is sad that an honest debate about reforming Washington's tax and spending policies can't be held during this election. But the sheer size of the problem is going to demand that the next Congress and president address it.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.