As to the implications for long-term reform, we ask two questions of each plan: (1) Is it itself a reform measure? (2) Will it serve the purposes of long-run reform?
Plan B ranks highest on both counts. Although billed as temporary, it would directly limit many tax preferences and indirectly promote a thorough review of the system. Such a review could well lead to fewer preferences and lower tax rates along the lines of the long-run proposals examined in chapter 3. Although plan D also contains some base- broadening elements, it only slightly reverses the erosion of the tax base and is certainly not of a scale sufficient to permit lower marginal tax rates.
Plans A and C contribute nothing directly to structural tax reform. At best, they serve to maintain pressure for more fundamental changes in the future.
The lessons for both the short run and the long seem to coincide. The best hope for dealing with both the deficit and the defects of the current tax structure is to tie together in a single commitment, if not a single legislative package, a temporary across-the-board tax increase in the style of plan A or B and long-run reforms that offer the promise of reduced marginal tax rates.