Caught in between — and even among — Occupy Wall Street protests for fairer taxes and the Tea Party's cry for a low tax burden, stand the estimated four million people who pay the complicated and confusing alternative minimum tax.
But as a constituency, analysts say, the AMTers will be left behind in the 2012 election because politicians on both sides of the aisle feel there's no advantage to push for an AMT repeal.
"It's not really controversial anymore," says Dan Mitchell, a policy scholar on taxes at the Cato Institute. "Both Democrats and Republicans don't like it, so it's not a partisan issue. There's no real need to focus on it for the election."
Another reason AMT repeal is not a political fire storm in 2012 is that most voters are calling for overall tax reform, not just one piece of it, says Isabel Sawhill, an economist at the Brookings Institution.
"People are assuming and hoping that there will be some sort of restructuring of all taxes," Sawhill explains. "AMT reform is part of that hope. And voters are more inclined to focus on something 'simple' like Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan. That seems sexier in terms of politics."
An even bigger problem for politicians in a down economy would be replacing the revenue collected from the AMT. In 1970, the first year of the AMT, some $122 million was collected. In 2011, it will raise an estimated $39.1 billion.
"Doing away with the AMT would require replacing a lot of lost tax revenue by increasing regular taxes," says Joseph Perry, partner-in-charge of the Tax & Business Services practice at Marcum LLP. "Asking certain Americans, probably more of the lower to middle income, to make up for the shortfall, would be political suicide."