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Learning To Love Tax Reform Talk

We’ll be the first to tell you that U.S. Representative Dave Camp’s (R-MI) Tax Reform Act of 2014 isn’t likely to make the perilous journey from pie-in-the-sky dream bill to law of the land.

The phrase “blah blah blah” was just one way House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) described his fellow Republican’s lengthy tax reform proposal when it was released last week.

So why devote an hour to the topic, you might ask? Why spend time working through the intricacies of tax code in the hypothetical when the very real tax day deadline is fast approaching?

Mostly, it’s because this is sometimes how policy change happens. Tax reform is one big policy initiative where both Republicans and Democrats find themselves largely in agreement. Sure, the specific policy tweaks and code overhauls vary, but politicians in both parties have given a lot of time to complaining about the tax code and blaming it for a variety of economic ills currently plaguing the U.S. economy.

In a Wall Street JournalĀ op-ed penned just before his reform act was published last week, Rep. Camp wrote: “Tax reform needs to be about strengthening the economy and making the code simpler and fairer. That’s what Republican President Ronald Reagan did when he worked with Democrats in Congress in 1986. We need to get to work and repeat that success.”

And in a way, his allusion serves as a helpful reminder that tax reform can be terribly fascinating. The wonderful 1988 book, “Showdown at Gucci Gulch,” details the 1986 tax reform adventure that laid the groundwork for the messy tax code of today. At the time, the deal was heralded as a major bipartisan breakthrough. The code it created was cleaner, simpler and in many ways, better than the one it replaced.

But as the book indicates, it takes a long, long time for tax policy to become law. Just as President Barack Obama’s budget (released today) won’t be enacted or written into law, so too will Rep. Camp’s tax reform be remembered as an interesting set of ideas. It’s those ideas that help make policy become reality. Hope our hour today helped you start to think.

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Aug 28, 2015
WDBJ-TV7 meteorologist Leo Hirsbrunner, right, wipes his eyes during the early morning newscast as anchors Kimberly McBroom, center, and guest anchor Steve Grant deliver the news at the station in Roanoke, Va., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. Reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed during a live broadcast Wednesday, while on assignment in Moneta. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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Aug 28, 2015
Lightning first ignited the Meadow fire on July 20, 2014 in Yosemite. By September 8, the fire had charred 2,582 acres. Bernie Krause has recorded soundscapes of national parks destroyed by large areas of forest fires. Listen below.  (National Park Service)

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Aug 28, 2015
WDBJ-TV7 meteorologist Leo Hirsbrunner, right, wipes his eyes during the early morning newscast as anchors Kimberly McBroom, center, and guest anchor Steve Grant deliver the news at the station in Roanoke, Va., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. Reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed during a live broadcast Wednesday, while on assignment in Moneta. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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