Busy cranking out new tax proposals, the Republicans say they will put a premium on making the tax code understandable.

Wonderful. A good place to start would be the phrase "tax cut." Republicans have a bad habit of using that phrase when they really mean "tax break."A "tax cut" implies a general drop in taxes. Lowering income tax rates across the board would be a good example.

A "tax break," though, exempts a specific group of people from having to pay certain taxes. Another word for a "tax break" is "loophole." It means, essentially, that other taxpayers have to pay more than would otherwise be the case.

In terms of the impact on other taxpayers, in fact, there isn't much difference between the government handing out a special tax break to a group of people and simply writing them a check.

-Stephen E. Winn

Kansas City Star