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Bipartisan Leaders Named to Head Panel on Tax Code Reform

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 7, 2005; Page A04

Former senators Connie Mack (R-Fla.) and John Breaux (D-La.) will be tapped today to lead a bipartisan panel tasked to remake and simplify the unwieldy U.S. tax code, administration officials said last night.

President Bush will introduce Mack as the panel's chairman and Breaux as the panel's co-chairman, along with a detailed timetable laying out when the panel's recommendations are to be sent to Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, the officials said. In all, there will be nine members. One member is expected to be former representative Bill Frenzel (R-Minn.), now at the Brookings Institution, who served on Bush's Social Security Commission in 2001 and co-chairs the Committee for Strategic Tax Reform, an advocacy group that promotes step-by-step legislative movements toward a tax code that would no longer tax savings and investment income.

A formal executive order will lay out the scope of the Bush panel's work and give the leaders authority to hire an independent staff of economists who have already been recruited.

Breaux, who retired last year, was the consummate dealmaker on the Senate Finance Committee. He helped broker key compromises that secured passage of Bush's signature on a $1.35 trillion tax cut in 2001 and his $350 billion tax cut in 2003. Mack, who retired in 2000, formerly headed the House-Senate Joint Economic Committee.

In 2000, when Mack was a potential vice presidential pick of Bush's, an essay in the conservative National Review praised him as a lawmaker "who never met a tax cut he didn't like."

The announcement fulfills a pledge Bush made at the Republican National Convention inSeptember, when he vowed to make the tax code simpler while promoting economic growth.

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