5. Which of these takes the largest toll on the federal government’s bottom line each year?
A) Social Security
B) Defense spending
C) Tax expenditures (loopholes, deductions, etc., in the tax code)
The answer given by the author is C). Forgive me for being difficult, but the Internal Revenue Code is the official fund raising document of the federal government. In the way the Code is currently organized (and written by Congress) there are a myriad of deductions and credits available to all tax payers and a myriad of deductions and credits available only to certain taxpayers. These are not "Tax Expenditures." They are part of the Code, usually inserted to serve a specific purpose that Congress, in its collective wisdom, deemed worthy. If one is to say these provisions of the Code take "a toll on the federal government's bottom line," one must believe that ALL the money belongs to the government in the first place.
Social Security and Defense Spending are among the many true expenses of running the federal government. The provisions of the Internal Revenue Code are not.
The Washington Post opinion columnist who penned the above question clearly has a point of view she is trying to get across. More power to her. I would likely be more open to her arguments is she wasn't playing with the language and skewing the questions. Just saying.