Taxes and the Family

Main St. Agenda by from National Affairs, Winter 2010

For more than two decades, free-market economists and policymakers have championed an agenda of comprehensive tax reform. Modeled on President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts, their plans have sought to combine further cuts in marginal income-tax rates with relief for corporations and investors, along with a profound simplification of the entire federal tax code. But unlike Reagan’s immensely popular ­initiative, the reformers’ campaign has gained little traction with the public—and has not been enacted even in times of Republican dominance in Washington.

At the core of this failure has been a misreading of Reagan’s success. Too often, advocates of comprehensive tax reform have focused on the particular means of Reagan’s plan—the lowering of marginal income-tax rates—rather than on its more general ends: correcting economic distortions caused by government policy, lightening the tax burden on American families, and encouraging more work and investment.

Read the full piece from National Affairs here.