Manipulating the tax code to benefit particular interests has obvious appeal for politicians—it's a source of power and influence—and a code that did not permit such manipulation would be much less attractive to them. Outright cash subsidies from the taxpayers, while not unheard of, smacks too much of cronyism and is more likely to alienate taxpayers. But complicated exceptions written into the tax laws can be presented as creative governance on behalf of the public interest. But, writes Sheldon Richman, it is cronyism as offensive as outright subsidies.
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