House Votes To Scrap Tax Code
By Ann Curley/CNN
WASHINGTON (June 17) -- The House has managed, barely, to pass a bill scrapping the current tax code and replacing it with a simpler, yet
unspecified, one. The final vote Wednesday was 219-209.
The Senate is unlikely to take up the House bill or any similar legislation, sentencing it to a quick death in Congress. If the Senate does take up the legislation, President Bill Clinton said Wednesday he will work to defeat the bill. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin said the legislation could have a "severe adverse impact" on the economy.
The House legislation, sponsored by Reps. Steve Largent (R-Okla.) and Bill Paxon (R-N.Y), calls for replacing the current tax code by July 4, 2002, and then sunsetting the current tax code six months later, by Dec. 31, 2002.
Largent told House members his goal is to encourage debate on how to
replace the current system over the next four years.
Speaking at a rally outside the U.S. Capitol, House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) assailed the current tax code. "What we have today is a
monstrosity," Gingrich said. "You can get different answers in different regions of the country. The IRS can't enforce it fairly, and the truth is that no tax expert in the country actually understands the entire code."
Democrats assailed the Republicans' new plan. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) denounced the bill, saying, "I think it's shameful that we should play on the hopes of the American people. People used to say we had to live with death and taxes. Republicans said, 'No, we can eliminate taxes.' Pretty soon they may eliminate death."
House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Tex.) described the House legislation as a "sunset-the-code" bill that "sets in place a timetable by which the Congress and the president will create a new code."