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Monday, January 10, 2005

Tax Analysts: Bios of Members of President's Tax Reform Commission

Tax_analysts_13Following up on Friday's post on the Executive Order creating the President's Advisory Panel on Tax Reform:  this morning's Tax Notes Today (available on the Tax Analysts web site (Doc. 2005-581, 2005 TNT 6-1)) has bios of each of the nine committee members:

  • Panel Chair Connie Mack, a senior policy adviser with Shaw Pittman in Washington, retired from Congress in January 2001 after serving 18 years, including 12 years in the Senate, where he served as the head of the Joint Economic Committee.  While it appears he did not endorse a specific tax reform agenda while in office, he outlined some preferences in a 1999 $755 billion 10-year tax cut he said would also spur economic growth. His plan would cut capital gains taxes and repeal estate and gift taxes. On the AMT, a problem the panel must address, Mack proposes indexing the AMT exemption amount.
  • Vice chair John Breaux, who retired from Congress earlier this month after three Senate terms, served on the Finance Committee as well as its Subcommittee on Oversight. As a senator, Breaux cultivated a strong reputation as a centrist dealmaker, often working with both parties to reach consensus. On tax cuts, Breaux supported the $1.35 trillion tax cut in 2001 as well as the American Jobs Creation Act (P.L. 108-357), the biggest overhaul in the corporate tax code since 1986. Conference negotiators reworked a proposal to allow multinational corporations to repatriate income at a one-time low rate to accommodate Breaux's concerns that the dollars be spent on specific U.S. activities such as employee hiring and training, research and development, and capital investments. Breaux, who reportedly rejected an offer to be Bush's first energy secretary four years ago, has endorsed private accounts for payroll taxes to supplement Social Security, a proposal similar to Bush's.
  • Bill Frenzel, a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, served as a House taxwriter and Budget Committee member during his tenure as a Republican House member from Minnesota from 1971 to 1991. Frenzel is also cochair of the Committee for Strategic Tax Reform, a group that proposed simplifying the code in "five easy pieces" -- a road map to a more consumption-based system through lower marginal income tax rates, eliminating taxes on dividends, increasing expensing, expanding Roth individual retirement accounts to all personal saving, and excluding export and other foreign trade income of American companies from taxation.

Testifying before a Ways and Means Committee hearing on tax reform in 2000, Frenzel endorsed the Simplified USA tax reform plan (H.R. 134), introduced by taxwriter Phil English, R-Pa., which would replace corporate and personal income taxes with an 8 percent to 11 percent business tax paid when income is produced and a 15 percent, 25 percent, and 30 percent progressive tax rate paid by individuals when they receive wages, interest, dividends, and other income. Frenzel praised the bill for encouraging saving, not taxing foreign income, and relieving "problems of regressivity and of disincentives to job formation caused by Social Security taxes."

"The need for major surgery on the U.S. tax code has been obvious for years," Frenzel told the panel. The English bill, Frenzel said, "doesn't tear the system out by the roots as you have always wanted to do, but it does rough up the system pretty well."

  • Charles O. Rossotti, IRS commissioner from 1997 to 2002, is currently a senior adviser with The Carlyle Group, a global private equity firm. President Bill Clinton tapped Rossotti, then the head of a technology systems development firm, to lead the IRS through its computer systems upgrade.
  • Elizabeth Garrett, a law professor at the University of Southern California, served from 1991 to 1993 as legal counsel and legislative assistant for tax, budget, and welfare reform issues for former Democratic Sen. David L. Boren of Oklahoma. In 1993 she became Boren's legislative director and budget counsel. In 2003 Garrett joined the faculty at the USC law school, where she teaches law and the political process, statutory interpretation, administrative law, and civil procedure.
  • Edward Lazear, professor of human resources, management, and economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, is also a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. Lazear was the founding editor of the Journal of Labor Economics, and he was the first vice president and president of the Society of Labor Economists.
  • Timothy Muris, chair of the Federal Trade Commission from 2001 through 2004, is now with O'Melveny & Myers LLP in Washington. He was with the Office of Management and Budget from 1985 to 1988, joined the faculty of the George Mason University School of Law in 1988, and served as interim dean of the law school from 1996 to 1997. He teaches antitrust, consumer law, European Union law, and international trade.
  • Liz Ann Sonders is chief investment strategist and a senior vice president for Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. Before joining Charles Schwab in 1999, she was with Avatar Associates, an asset management company, for 13 years. According to the Charles Schwab Web site, she speaks frequently about the stock market and the economy at money management seminars and is a regular panelist at events hosted by the New York Society of Security Analysts and the Securities Industry Institute.
  • James Poterba is an economics professor and the associate head of the economics department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught since 1982. Poterba serves as director of the public economics research program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and his writing and research focus on how taxation affects the economic decisions of households and firms.

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