FALLS CHURCH, VA — Tax reform requires presidential leadership, an empowered Treasury secretary, enthusiastic chairs of congressional taxwriting committees, and a "zealot" to push it, former Sen. Bill Bradley told Tax Notes for its special issue this week to mark the 25th anniversary of the last major reform.
Also vital is a shared agreement on "what you mean by tax reform," said Bradley, the self-described zealot of 1986 who pushed relentlessly for what became that year's landmark Tax Reform Act. Policymakers need to decide whether tax reform will be "revenue neutral," as the 1986 act was, or whether it will be part of an effort to raise revenues for deficit reduction.
"Do you mean closing loopholes only?" he asked. "Or do you mean closing loopholes to lower rates with all the money going to lower rates? Or do you mean closing loopholes and using only some of the revenue to reduce rates?"
Commemorating the anniversary of tax reform, this week's Tax Notes includes commentary from the magazine's own contributing editors Lee Sheppard and Joseph J. Thorndike, as well as essays from such leading tax experts as Martin Feldstein, Michael J. Graetz, Kenneth J. Kies, C. Eugene Steuerle, Bruce Bartlett, Robert S. McIntyre, and Donald B. Susswein. Several of them played key roles — at the Treasury Department, on Capitol Hill, and elsewhere — in the 1986 legislation.
Read the interview with former Sen. Bill Bradley.
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