Fairer, Flatter, Simpler

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WASHINGTON, D.C: Bob Dole got it half right. He understands the value of promising a fat tax cut in an election year, but he was caught flat-footed when the Clinton White House shot his plan full of holes the day before he announced it. Soldiering on, Dole announced today that his economic master plan will "downsize" the IRS, while making taxes "fairer, flatter and simpler." The plan may include sweeping capital gains tax exemptions for small business owners. While Dole himself is not ready to put a figure on a possible tax cut, his top aides say a plan to deliver a $600 billion cut over six years is under "serious consideration." A universal 15 percent cut, to roll back the 1990 and 1993 Bush and Clinton tax increases, could deliver that total. Either way the price tag is $100 billion a year. A GOP workup indicates that Dole would rely on a combination of extraordinary economic growth, reduced corporate tax loopholes, tighter enforcement of customs laws and cuts in domestic spending. "A tax cut of this size would require Dole to turn away from what he has defended for his entire career," observes TIME's John Dickerson. "As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, he was tough on eliminating the deficit and balancing the budget. If Dole suddenly embraces a large tax cut, the spending reductions necessary to recover the shortfall will be very severe. Dole's advisors will make all the calculations balance out, but the voters may be left wondering if the spending cuts are too draconian." Either that, or planning how they would spend the money they'd get to keep. -->