“‘We’re taking all the feasible, non-disastrous ways of dealing with our budget problems off the table,’ said Leonard Burman, former director of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, who now teaches at Syracuse University. ’We can’t cut Medicare. We can’t enact a VAT. We can’t raise any income taxes ever, except possibly on the 17 people who make over $1 billion a year.
‘Behind closed doors, almost everyone serious in Washington understands there’s a big problem,’ Burman said. ’But in public, basically if you say anything intelligent, you’re killed.’ Economists across the political spectrum argue that a VAT, which taxes spending rather than income, should be at least on the table when a commission appointed by Obama meets next week to craft a plan to reduce soaring budget deficits. Providing federal support to a vast wave of retiring baby boomers is almost certain to require higher taxes, budget experts say, and a VAT is efficient, easy to collect and could raise significant revenue without imposing additional taxes on earnings.”