We're hearing a lot more about corporate inversion these days despite it being a legitimate action taken by dozens of companies in recent years. Inversions happen when U.S. corporations move their legal headquarters to a foreign country to lower their U.S. tax burden, and the net result is indignation.  Plans by high-profile U.S. corporations like Burger King and leading medical device manufacturer Medtronic to move their official headquarters to Canada and Ireland, respectively, have triggered a backlash in Washington.

President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaIt's Joe Biden's 2020 presidential nomination to lose Assange hit with 17 new charges, including Espionage Act violations Progressive commentator says Obama was delusional thinking he could work with Republicans MORE has condemned inversions as a paper shift of assets abroad that leaves other companies and private citizens picking up the tab for the taxes escaped by the inverted companies. The shift is often made when a U.S. corporation buys a smaller foreign company and essentially makes the foreign acquisition the new parent company, if only for tax purposes.

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The Treasury Department issued new rules in September that make it harder for companies to profit from inversions. But this hasn't halted the current mini-boom in inversion proposals, so the next step could be new and tougher rules.

These future rules will probably focus on the practice of "earnings stripping." Inverted companies typically do this by having the smaller "parent" company outside the U.S. lend money to the U.S. unit. The U.S. unit then takes earnings produced in the U.S. and strips them away from American taxes by paying to them to the foreign parent as tax-deductible interest on the loan.

This kind of accounting shuffle doesn't violate current U.S. law or federal regulations and it is a mainstay tactic of companies that go the inversion route. But rather than focus on inversions, the president and Congress would do better to focus on comprehensive tax reform.

Inversions should be viewed as a reaction to our famously dysfunctional tax system, especially as it applies to corporations.  Besides being notoriously complicated, inefficient and riddled with special interest provisions, the system leaves U.S. companies with by far the highest tax burdens in the industrialized world.

The federal tax rate for corporations is 35 percent. But when you include state taxes as well, according to the Tax Foundation, the rate is more like 39.1 percent. Compare that to a net corporate tax rate of 15 percent just across the border in Canada.

The Canadian rate is less than half of ours, but even with that lower rate our northern neighbor raises as much corporate tax revenue as a percent of gross domestic product (GDP) as we do. That's because the Canadian tax system is more transparent and efficient.

Unfortunately, the U.S. tax system is often used as a weapon against industries that are out of political favor. We're seeing a shameless example of that right now in the federal government's tax assault on America's domestic oil and natural gas producers.

President Obama has never shown much love for this industry. Now he and certain allies in Congress from both parties are trying to engineer a massive new energy tax aimed at these companies and dressing it up in the language of tax reform.

The President's proposals are the exact opposite of tax reform. In short, they're a narrowly focused and punitive attack on oil and gas producers that would strip away legitimate tax deductions and incentives while keeping those provisions in place for all other manufacturing and mining industries.  If enacted, energy costs will rise for consumers and businesses.

Over the past 10 years the oil and gas industry has kept the U.S. economy afloat. Indeed, if it hadn't been for the industry's huge investments in the nation's shale plays the Great Recession would have been the Great Depression 2.0.  Not only has the industry created hundreds of thousands of high wage jobs, the tremendous growth in oil production in recent years has reduced imports from 60 percent of consumption to less than 30 percent.

For decades, oil and gas producers have consistently paid federal taxes at a substantially higher rate than all other industries listed in the S&P index. The irrationality of even more taxes on the industry underscores the need for a comprehensive, bipartisan tax reform effort. Otherwise inversions will remain a corporate temptation.

Weinstein is associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute and an adjunct professor of business economics in the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.