WASHINGTON — The White House said it would launch a search for new tax revenues, as Congressional leaders moved to scale back proposed spending increases and tax cuts in President Barack Obama’s ambitious budget.
The Obama administration plans to create a task force to consider elimination of corporate loopholes and subsidies, tougher enforcement against tax avoidance, and tax simplification, White House Budget Director Peter Orszag said late Tuesday.
Mr. Obama’s budget proposal began the process of addressing problems such as the tax gap, the difference between taxes owed and taxes collected. “The question is whether we can be even more aggressive” in those areas, Mr. Orszag said in an interview late Tuesday. The task force will be run through a White House advisory board being headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, Mr. Orszag said.
No target for a dollar figure has been set. But the effort theoretically could lead to tens of billions of dollars in additional collections. The tax gap alone is estimated at $300 billion a year, of which more than $100 billion is believed to be collectible, according to IRS statistics.
By congressional estimates, annual spending on basic government services — programs other than defense and entitlements — would rise by more than 10% in fiscal 2010 under the $3.6 trillion Obama plan. Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, presented his version of Mr. Obama’s budget to his colleagues on Tuesday, including an increase in annual nondefense spending of 7% for 2010 — a $15 billion reduction from the president’s.
Rep. John Spratt (D., S.C.), the House Budget Committee chairman, was expected to make somewhat smaller reductions when he rolled out his plan on Wednesday.