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I focus here on prospects for tax reform. Things are quiet, politically, on the tax reform front. The Republicans in 1999 are talking about an across-the-board tax cut less extensive than Ronald Reagan's tax cut of 1981. On February 1, 1999, President Clinton, in his budget proposals, offered thirty-eight "targeted" tax reduction proposals and seventy-four tax increase proposals. It took the Treasury Department 197 closely typed, single-spaced pages to describe the proposals. We do not appear to be on the verge of major tax simplification.
Despite the present lull, however, a tide of tax reform seems inevitable. It may come later rather than sooner, but the income tax has fallen into a state of disrepute with the American people. In every year until 1972, polls revealed that the public regarded the income tax as the most fair tax in the system. Since 1979, the public has regarded the income tax as the least fair.
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