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President 'Severely Misguided' on Tax Cut, Lawmaker Charges

July 14, 1986|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Reagan is badly misguided about the whole idea of tax overhaul if he thinks the only important factor is cutting the top individual tax rate, Rep. Richard Gephardt, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said today.

"There is no magic about the 27% rate" in the tax plan passed by the Senate, said Gephardt, a Missourian and member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. "And the statements from the Administration serve only to raise false expectations" about the Senate-House conference that will write the final tax bill, he added.

Reagan has endorsed the Senate bill in preference to the House version. In doing so, he repeatedly pointed to the fact the Senate plan has lower individual rates than does the House bill, although the House plan would provide proportionately greater relief to middle-income people.

"Late last week, the President said he will do just about anything to get that (top) rate down to 27%," Gephardt said in remarks prepared for a meeting in Fort Worth, Tex., of governors and legislators from 16 Southern states. "If that is the President's only wish--and it seems to be--he is severely misguided about the whole idea of tax reform."

'Not a Fair Tax'

Such a fixation on the top rate indicates that Reagan "has not grown out of the old conservative Republican idea that a flat tax is the best approach to tax reform," added Gephardt, who has led tax-overhaul forces in the House. "A flat tax is not a fair tax. It would enable a millionaire to pay the same rate as a street sweeper and thus would be the biggest special-interest giveaway in history."

The most important issue facing the tax conference, he said, is not the top rate but the best way to cut taxes for the middle class.

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