Advocates are hopeful that work on tax reform will proceed regardless of how the election turns out, given the interest both parties have expressed in addressing the issue.
“If a Romney-Ryan ticket defeated, it might make reform more difficult,” said Steve Bell, another former GOP staffer.
Liberal advocates, however, said conservatives’ strong opposition to tax increases is what’s really standing in the way of a “grand bargain” to cut the deficit.
Andrew Fieldhouse of the liberal Economic Policy Institute said the only way action on taxes and the deficit would happen in a second Obama term is if the “Tea Party caucus gets decimated.”
“If more and more buck Grover Norquist, then maybe you get tax reform,” Fieldhouse said, referring to the anti-tax activist.
Democrats have insisted that any reform of the tax code raise revenue for the government, while Republicans want a revenue neutral cleaning up of the code that eliminates tax breaks and lowers rates.
Scott Lilly of the liberal Center for American Progress predicted Obama would make a real push for a grand bargain on the debt if he wins reelection.
“I think the administration wants to do something large and meaningful on the deficit. They are willing to make some changes in entitlements that will be somewhat painful as long as there is a revenue component,” he said.
Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense said he could see a path to entitlement reform under a second Obama term, but it would be a lengthy process since the White House does not have a detailed plan like Ryan proposed. He said Obama could try to form a Medicare commission to generate ideas.