Taxes: The Logical Step

Federal excise taxes have usually been temporary measures, mostly during war time, and they have ebbed and flowed many times since they were widely introduced during the Civil War. They have been so persistent for many years, however, that less than half the U.S. population remember a time when they did not have to pay such taxes on scores of everyday goods and services, from autos to leases on safe-deposit boxes. Now the biggest excise-tax cut in U.S. history is speeding through Congress.

In a mere three days after Lyndon Johnson asked Congress to cut these taxes by $4 billion, the...

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