Yes, the tax code is indefensibly complicated. But that is the fault of the Congress, not the IRS. Whatever the tax laws are, what is the argument for depriving the IRS of the funds and personnel needed to enforce it (let alone, to answer the phones)?
Yes, the Democrats are as insistent on totally protecting Social Security and Medicare as the Republicans. But they are far less hypocritical because (1) they don't campaign on claims of being fiscally conservative; (2) the only times that the debt/GDP ratio has (temporarily) declined since 1976 have been under Democratic governments (particularly Clinton, 1996-2000); and (3) they have some good ideas for raising tax revenue (abolish the carried interest deduction, restore estate taxation, even institute a carbon tax... and, again, fund the IRS). -- JF
Jeffrey Frankel, Professor of Capital Formation and Growth at Harvard University, served as a member of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers. He is a research associate at the US National Bureau of Economic Research.