Ask a horse thief for a horse not worth stealing and you’re bound to get a broken-down nag.  Asl a senator for a list of tax breaks that should be eliminated, and you won’t get reform.  In this case, however, senators are being asked for tax breaks worth keeping.  The senate still won’t get tax reform because each senator will hold tightly to a pet exclusion, and the only ones that fall out of the system will be broken-down, unloved breaks that hardly raise a cent.  This is a case where listening doesn’t work.  When the public is as fractured as the senate over what to do, it takes courageous and persuasive leaders to get it to legislate anything of worth.  One also should ask where the President is in all this.  He could put his pressure and prestige behind a reform bill but he appears to be absent.  There are larger issues on his agenda.   Will the country get much-needed tax code restructuring?  It doesn’t look like it today.  There are too many competing interests and too little political and public cohesion.

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