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This is a time of trouble for the federal income tax. In accepting his
party's nomination for the Presidency, Mr. Carter said:
It's time for a complete overhaul of our income tax system. I still tell you
it's a disgrace to the human race. All my life I have heard promises of
tax reform, but it never quite happens. With your help, we are finally
going to make it happen and you can depend on it.
If the federal income tax has been converted since Mr. Carter's election
from "a disgrace to the human race" into one of the glories of AngloAmerican
jurisprudence, the changes have eluded my scrutiny. More
likely, the President, like his predecessors, has discovered that tax reform
is more appealing as a political slogan than as an agenda for action.
Moreover, he prudently qualified his promise by telling his listeners that
he would need "your help." Whether he referred to the delegates in the
convention hall or to the nationwide television audience, he clearly has
an escape hatch if sued for breach of promise. His performance was
subject to a condition precedent that is not likely to be satisfied. Almost
everyone wants comprehensive tax reform, but resistance to particular
changes almost always outweighs this vague yearning for drastic programs.
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