Friday, November 07, 2003 | America's deficits | America's deficits: "For all the talk of Social Security reform, the only White House action on entitlements has been to expand them. The contrast with Ronald Reagan is revealing. The Gipper cut discretionary non-defence spending by 13.5% in real terms and made an effort to overhaul entitlements. In 1983 a commission on Social Security reform raised the retirement age as well as payroll taxes.
Look closely, and Mr Bush is also much less of a tax reformer than Mr Reagan was. In 1986, the Gipper presided over the biggest tax reform in modern American history. The tax base was broadened and rates were lowered, but the overall tax burden remained unchanged. Although Team Bush wants a reformed tax code, aimed at consumption rather than income, their strategy of tax reform via tax cuts will not produce a clean reform. Many of the subsidies and loopholes of the current system will remain. The result will be a narrower tax base, full of distortions, which shifts the burden of taxation towards poorer Americans.
The other big difference with the Gipper is that Mr Reagan was not averse to putting up taxes when too much red ink appeared. Taxes were raised several times during his presidency. Congressional rules on deficit reduction were introduced during Mr Reagan's second term. So far, at least, Team Bush has shown no such flexibility. There is no admission that America faces a fiscal mess, and no shifting from the mantra that all tax increases, at all times, are bad. "

...Yes we got trouble right here in River City! Trouble begins with T and stands for Trillion! (44 of em, but who's counting
What the Economist doesn't bother to say is that Democrats were in control of at least one house of Congress and had major roles in shaping tax reforms. Where is Daniel Moynihan now that we need him?

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