Letter to Members of the House of Representatives Urging Support for Tax Reform Legislation

December 9, 1985

As the House prepares to vote on H.R. 3838, the Tax Reform Act of 1985, let me repeat my strong support for tax reform and for moving a bill forward to the Senate.

The tax reform proposals pending before the House are a substantial improvement over present law and represent a significant and essential first step toward real tax reform. Under both proposals, individual and corporate tax rates are reduced substantially, with the top individual tax rate reduced to its lowest level since 1931. The personal exemption and standard deductions are increased substantially, and millions of working poor families would be removed from the tax rolls. Tax shelters are curtailed, special preferences are eliminated or restricted, and a stiff minimum tax is imposed.

I share the concern many have over particular aspects of the pending bills. As I have said, they can only be considered a good start, not an end product. More can and must be done to reduce tax rates further, and lower the cost of capital, so we can strengthen economic growth and opportunity for every American.

A tremendous amount of work has already gone into the process that has brought us this far. If a bill does not move forward from the House now, it is reasonable to suggest that tax reform might be ``dead'' for several years. From this perspective, the House vote is essentially a vote on whether or not to sustain the possibility of tax reform -- to allow the legislative process to continue in the difficult effort to fashion a satisfactory bill.

To fail to advance a bill now would mean maintaining the status quo -- a tax system with all its inequities, complexities, and tendencies to discourage efficient economic growth. That is not what I want. It is not what the American people want. I trust it is not what the House wants.

I strongly urge you to vote for tax reform -- the Republican alternative or, should it not prevail, the Ways and Means bill. A vote against final passage in the House would doom our efforts to achieve real tax reform for the American people. We must not allow that to happen.

Note: Larry M. Speakes, Principal Deputy Press Secretary to the President, read the President's letter at 9:17 a.m. to reporters in the Briefing Room at the White House. The original was not available for verification of the content of this letter.