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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

One Reason Why Tax Reform Is Hard: Congress Lacks Institutional Memory

In  Defying the Odds, we discuss the issues of the 2016 campaign, including taxation.

Congress may soon take up tax reform.  Very, very few of its members have any firsthand experience with how hard it is to pass.  The last comprehensive tax reform passed 31 years ago, in 1986.

In the House,11 current members (5 R, 6 D) of the 115th Congress (2017-18) served in the 99th (1985-86). Thirteen senators (7R, 6 D) served in the 99th Congress.  Of this total, 5 were in the Senate at the time, while 8 were in the House.

How many of these 1986 veterans serve on the tax-writing committees?  Sander Levin still serves on House Ways and Means.  The Senate Finance Committee has a larger contingent: Ron Wyden (ranking minority member), Bill Nelson, and Thomas Carper, as well as Republicans Orrin Hatch (chair), Charles Grassley, and Pat Roberts.

Senate party leaders Charles Schumer and Mitch McConnell were present for the 1986 tax reform (McConnell in the Senate, Schumer in the House).  Neither Speaker Paul Ryan nor House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was serving at that time.  Ryan was still in high school.
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House members of the 115th Congress who served in the 99th:

Republicans

Don Young, (AK)
F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (WI)
Harold Rogers (KY)
Christopher H. Smith (NJ)
 Joe L. Barton (TX)

Democrats

John Conyers Jr (MI)
Steny H. Hoyer (MD)
Marcy Kaptur (OH)
Sander M. Levin (MI)
Peter J. Visclosky (IN)
Jim Cooper (TN)
Senators of the 115th Congress who served in Senate during the 99th Congress:

Republicans

Democrats
Orrin G. Hatch (UT)
Thad Cochran (MS)
Charles E. Grassley (IA)
Mitch McConnell (KY)
Patrick J. Leahy (VT)



Senators who were serving in the House at the time:

John McCain (AZ)
Pat Roberts (KS)
Richard C. Shelby (AL)

Thomas R. Carper (DE)
Bill Nelson (FL)
Charles Schumer (NY)
Ron Wyden (OR)
Edward J. Markey (MA)