Making Economic Policy in Congress

By Allen Schick | Go to book overview

7
Tax Policy: Structure and Choice

Catherine E. Rudder

iThe requirements for making responsible tax policy seem to run counter to open, decentralized legislative procedures, especially when organizing forces, such as strong political parties, that can facilitate cohesion are lacking. As James Madison warned in Federalist No. 10, "The apportionment of taxes . . . is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet, there is perhaps no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party, to trample on the rules of justice." 1 John Manley found in his study of the House Ways and Means Committee that members repeatedly emphasized the complexity and importance of tax policy and recognized that a unique and controlled process is necessary to protect public interests. 2

Given the significant national implications and widespread effects of tax policy, the main problem facing Congress in the area of tax policy is how to structure the process so that the resulting legislation is responsible, that is, is equitable and efficient, raises sufficient revenues, and is coordinated with other components of fiscal policy. 3 This chapter compares congressional formulation of tax legislation before and after the reforms of the 1970s and analyzes how the changes have affected the capacity of Congress to produce responsible legislation.


The Mills Era: Restricted Access

From 1958 through 1974 Wilbur Mills (Democrat, Arkansas) chaired the House Committee on Ways and Means. During his long rule as chairman, Mills was recognized as a leader who could move Congress to produce responsible tax legislation.

____________________
i
am indebted to Joyce Murdoch, John Gist, William Johnstone, and Thomas Mann for their helpful comments on this chapter. Patricia Spellman assisted by typing the manuscript.

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Making Economic Policy in Congress
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Making Economic Policy in Congress *
  • Contents *
  • Foreword xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: Congress and the Dilemma of Economic Policy 6
  • 2: Getting, Using, and Misusing Economic Information 38
  • 3: Budget Control in a Redistributive Environment 69
  • 4: The Politics of Subtraction 100
  • 5: Congress and Redistribution 131
  • 6: The Cry-And-Sigh Syndrome 158
  • 7: Tax Policy: Structure and Choice 196
  • 8: Making Regulatory Policy 221
  • 9: The Distributive Congress 257
  • Contributors 275
  • Index 277
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