Tax reform often seems like an elusive goal. But conservatives should be pleased about where we are on this issue. We've come a long way in just a few years.
The ideal tax reform would lower tax rates on families and businesses and establish a consumption tax base. A consumption base doesn't necessarily mean a sales tax. It means any plan that doesn't tax saving and investment multiple times like the current one does. A flat tax, for example, is a consumption tax.
In 2012, Mitt Romney released a tax plan when he was running for president. The plan made many improvements to the tax code, but it wouldn't have allowed the economy to grow at its potential because it didn't move far enough toward a consumption tax.
His plan lowered rates and broadened the tax base, which was good. However, he severely constrained the plan by adhering to revenue-neutrality -- meaning his plan raised the same amount of revenue as the current system. So he couldn't lower rates or reduce tax on saving and investment enough to get strong growth effects.
To be sure, the economic climate was much different four years ago in a way that made proposing tax cuts difficult. Deficits were historically large, and revenues still were well below historical norms because of the Great Recession.
Two years later, Dave Camp, then-chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, released his draft tax reform proposal. In many ways, Camp's draft mirrored Romney's. It reduced rates and broadened the tax base, but it too fell prey to revenue neutrality. The plan didn't reduce rates enough or substantially cut taxes on saving and investment.