NewsOk.com (Upside Down)
By: David Blatt
November 19, 2010
The co-chairmen of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform rightly identified reform of tax expenditures as a major part of the solution to bringing the federal deficit under control. As a commission member, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn could represent our best interests by seriously considering the recommendations to address revenues lost to tax expenditures. Nearly half of the $1 trillion in forgone revenue is supposed to help American families build wealth through homeownership, college education and small business. However, a new CFED report ("Upside Down: The $400 Billion Federal Asset-Building Budget") finds that major federal tax expenditures benefit the top 1 percent of households to the tune of $95,000 annually, while those earning less than $25,000 a year get an average annual benefit of just $5.
One glaring example is the mortgage interest deduction. In Oklahoma, only 21 percent of homeowners claim the deduction: The average deduction is the nation's lowest, at $7,992. Another example is the $100 billion the federal government invests to encourage savings. In Oklahoma, more than one in five families lacks an adequate nest egg for financial emergencies. Only half of workers participate in employment-based retirement plans in our state.
Coburn should support reform of tax expenditures so that federal investments to enable families to achieve financial self-reliance truly benefit all Oklahoma families.
David Blatt, Tulsa
Blatt is director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute.