House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) yesterday said his tax-writing panel "should look seriously at a tax related to the bailout" of the savings and loan industry instead of relying on funds borrowed by the Treasury.
Rostenkowski said he did not know how such a tax would be structured and added, "I don't know whether that would be acceptable."
But he said that he was troubled by the thought of "putting the cost of this on our children and grandchildren."
Rep. Barbara B. Kennelly (D-Conn.) agreed. "We should look at some bold and innovative answers before handing it to future generations," she said.
The lawmakers spoke during a hearing at which Treasury Undersecretary Robert R. Glauber told lawmakers that the savings and loan cleanup made it difficult to predict the government's borrowing needs.
Felix G. Rohatyn, a partner in the investment banking firm of Lazard Freres & Co., suggested a tax surcharge for the cleanup of failed savings and loan institutions in a speech to the National Press Club last month. Rohatyn, head of the Municipal Assistance Corp. that helped rescue New York City from its fiscal crisis in the 1970s, said the government should impose a 5 percent income tax surcharge for three to four years to cover the savings and loan losses rather than spread out the cost over 30 years.
He said that borrowing would in effect be "leaving it to our children to pay off our own stupidity, as well as keeping a drag on the economy"