October 9, 2013
A lame-duck president and a bitterly partisan Congress clinch a landmark deal to rewrite the nation’s Tax Code over the objections of entrenched special interests, which fought to the end to protect their tax turf.
It’s a narrative tax writers Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) hope to see repeated over the next year. It is also the improbable story of the 1986 tax reform effort — memorialized in the seminal book, “Showdown at Gucci Gulch” by then-Wall Street Journal reporters Jeffrey Birnbaum and Alan Murray.
The book was never a runaway best-seller, but it became a standard political science course text and a cult favorite among Washington policy wonks. More important, the basic story of reform against all odds is the best argument advocates have to counter skeptics, a majority viewpoint, who say it can never happen in today’s hyperpartisan Washington.