Millions of Americans watched the 70th episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones last Sunday to see who would win the ultimate battle between the people of Westeros and the undead army of the White Walkers. But there is another undead threat here in America that has gotten far less attention, one that marches not on our lands and castles, but on our tax code: they’re called “tax extenders.”
What exactly are tax extenders, you may be wondering, and how are they at all similar to the mythical antagonists from Westeros? Tax extenders were a package of “temporary” provisions that that gave preferential tax treatment to particular industries or activities. For nearly 30 years, Congress voted to extend the life of these provisions – which primarily benefited niche special interest groups – for just one or two years at a time. The main purpose of this ritual was to hide the true long-term costs of these special-interest handouts from the American people.