(This essay began in slightly different form at The Pretense of Knowledge: A Shout-out to Von Hayek.)
Should the federal government reduce the deductions for interest paid on home mortgages? If you put "budget battle mortgage deductions" in a search engine, you will see that this has been a proposal going back to February 2009. (See the July 21, 2011 article at CNBC.com here.)
"Tax breaks" (so-called) are always problematic. On the one hand, the money is yours, not theirs, so when they decide not to take it, they are not really giving you anything. Tax breaks for the rich should be called not robbing the plunderable -- after all, taxing poor people does not pay as well, just by definition.
However, taxes are how we pay for services from fire, police, and schools, to parks and other infrastructure. Granted that these could or should all be privatized, the truth is that they are not. So, what one person does not pay in taxes, another must, either now directly or in the next generation via inflation.
But commercial rentors ("landlords") do not enjoy tax breaks on the interest of those rental properties. The laws favor the single family in a single home. Again, as long as we pay for public services with taxes, it is impossible to not tax one person without taxing another more. That still leaves unanswered the more basic question: How is the interest paid on a mortgage different from any other interest, whether paid for a credit card, or paid by a corporation to its bond holders?