The commission’s report will include dozens of proposals, ranging from reducing the federal government’s fleet of vehicles to carving the defence budget. But the willingness to tackle a tax code that is riddled with benefits geared toward specific political goals that are backed by special interests will determine if the White House and Congress are serious about heading off what many economists say is a potential debt crisis.

“To make the code simpler without raising marginal rates, cherished tax preferences such as the mortgage interest deduction have to be on the table,” said Taylor Griffin, a partner at Washington-based consultancy Hamilton Place Strategies and a former official in George W. Bush’s White House and Treasury Department. “That’s where the revenue is.”

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