Sen. Russell B. Long (D-La.), ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said yesterday that, while he will advise committee Chairman Bob Packwood (R-Ore.) on putting together a draft tax-overhaul bill, he wants it to be Packwood's proposal.
"I have no desire to be cochairman of the committee," Long said in an interview yesterday. "He ought to submit a working proposal the committee should consider. I'll be glad to give him my advice. Someone has to take charge on matters to do with the committee. He and I are a committee of two, but when we disagree, he's a majority of one."
At their retreat to West Virginia last weekend, Finance panel members voted to have Packwood and Long draw up the draft, intended to be the starting point for the bill the committee will begin preparing in March. Committee chief of staff William Diefenderfer earlier yesterday called the draft, still in early stages, a "joint project" between the majority and minority on the committee.
Long also expressed objections to the most-publicized proposal for raising revenue to pay for restoration of tax benefits from the House-passed bill, ending the federal tax deduction for state and local sales taxes. Louisiana collects a large portion of its revenue from sales taxes and relatively little from income taxes.
"To meet the revenue objectives, we will have to look at the deductibility of taxes," Long said. "If we do it in such a way it does not provide any state in the Union an advantage over any other state, it's hard for me to see how any state could complain about it. . . . If you say you cannot deduct a sales tax and some states don't have a sales tax, that would not be fair."
Diefenderfer said no decisions had been made about what elements would be included in the draft legislation to keep the package "revenue-neutral."