President Obama has been railing against corporate “inversions”—that is, American corporations that merge with or are sold to foreign companies to escape prohibitively high U.S. corporate taxes.

Burger King is perhaps the most famous recent corporation to practice inversion.  It became part of Canadian firm and moved its headquarters to Canada. Thus it can avoid high U.S. corporate taxes. Senator Elizabeth Warren lambasted such companies, saying that “these companies are renouncing their American citizenship, turning their backs on this country, simply to boost their profits.”

Note to Senator Warren: companies exist to make profits. This is a good thing, especially if millions of people own stock in their retirement portfolios. The U.S. has been trying to halt inversions for years. George W. Bush signed a bill to try to limit inversions in 2004, the year he was running against then-Senator John Kerry, who famously described such companies as “Benedict Arnold” companies.

This Bush era “fix” didn’t work, and companies continued to seek better business atmospheres abroad. Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute writes in City Journal:

The inversion “fix” failed because Congress can’t control the whole world. As America’s tax code has stagnated, the rest of the Western world has become more competitive. As Peter Merrill, a principal with the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, told a Senate Finance Committee panel this summer, “The top U.S. corporate statutory rate, including state tax, is 39.1 percent. This is the highest rate among major economies, more than 14 points above the average for the other Western countries and almost 10 point points higher than the average for the other G-7 countries.” Merrill went on to say that since America last reformed its tax system in 1986, “other [developed] countries have reduced the rates by a collective average of 19 points, while the U.S. federal corporate tax rate was increased in 1993 to 35” percent. By contrast, Ireland’s rate is 12.5 percent, the rate in the Netherlands is 25 percent, and Switzerland’s is 21.1 percent. Even America’s 27.1 percent effective tax rate—which takes into account real-life deductions—is higher than the 23.3 percent effective rate in other Western countries (i.e., not China).

But there is a “fix” that would work: reforming the tax system so that countries no longer have an incentive to flee the United States. Gelinas writes:

There’s an easy way to thwart these moves: cut corporate tax rates and pay for the rate cut by eliminating some of the country’s biggest tax breaks.

Rep. Paul Ryan, who is likely to become the next Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has proposed tax reform as the way to cope with inversions. Gelinas is in favor of this and notes that the Treasury Department’s claim that there is a revenue emergency is not to be trusted.

But will politicians take on tax reform?

The sign of any genuine, broad-ranging tax reform is that it takes on everyone’s sacred cows—from energy producers to homeowners—and risks making everyone unhappy, because people like their own special tax breaks and no one else’s. So expect politicians of both parties to continue to rail against tax inversions without doing anything about them, since complaining is politically cheaper than acting.