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The Boston Globe



Simplify the tax code

It will be an involved and painful process, but reform is necessary

In Washington, being right doesn’t guarantee success. Sometimes, assembling the right team, or laying out the right process, or having more stamina than anyone else can make the difference. Sometimes you need all three.

In 1986, two very different personalities on opposite sides of the Capitol had the same idea. Representative Dan Rostenkowski, a Democrat, and Senator Bob Packwood, a Republican, each decided that they would personally lead the effort to reform America’s tax code. Never short on ego, the two tax committee chairmen threw themselves into the task. After months of tortuous negotiations, they emerged with a bill that lowered rates across the board while repealing hundreds of tax breaks. Tip O’Neill blessed it, Ronald Reagan signed it, and, for the first time in decades, the tax code was simpler.

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