The New 12 Steps to Recovery

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Flanked by Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole, former housing secretary Jack Kemp presented the long-awaited report of his tax commission at a press conference, proposing "a roadmap for a totally new tax code for America as we enter the 21st century." The 14-member panel called the current tax code a "7 million-word mess" and endorsed a flat tax, while leaving out specifics on what percentage should be taxed and what, if any, deductions should be preserved. Instead, the plan's centerpiece is "The Tax Test:" twelve principles to guide the creation of a fairer, flatter and simpler tax code. Gingrich told reporters the proposal constitutes the beginning of "a very, very bold and very different new debate." Kemp challenged Clinton to appoint a bipartisan, blue ribbon commission to draft the sepcifics. But while well-intentioned, Kemp's commission is rooted in politics, notes TIME's Jeffrey Birnbaum. "The flat tax is the hottest new issue on the campaign trail and has launched Steve Forbes into second place," he says. Since Jack Kemp is a longtime flat tax advocate, it seems odd that his commission didn't provide a detailed recommendation. But the commission, Birnbaum notes, "was packed with Dole supporters, and Bob Dole has been concerned about criticisms the flat tax would increase the deficit and be a giveaway to the wealthy. He didn't want specifics from the commission, and voila, there are none."