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Sometimes three strikes are too many

January 31, 2012

Legendary Oakland A's owner Charles Finley proposed to shake up baseball by awarding walks on three balls and strikeouts after two strikes. It never caught on in baseball, but there's a place for it in the tax law.

Every year or two Congress passes 70 or so "extenders" -- tax breaks provisions enacted with an expiration date, but which they have no intention of letting expire. By pretending the breaks are temporary, they avoid facing up to the true revenue cost.

Len Burman proposes a "three-strikes" rule for Extenders:

I propose a “three strikes and you’re out” rule. After a provision has been extended three times, it should either be made permanent (and its cost fully offset) or it should be erased from the books.

Two strikes is plenty. After the first extension, any further extensions should be scored as a permanent provision, as if it will be in effect forever. But that would require an honest Congress, which is hard to imagine.

Related: Happy 2012! Your taxes may have just gone up!

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