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Happy 27th birthday tax reform

I haven't had a piece of tax birthday cake for a while, so I'm cutting into one today to celebrate this day 27 years ago when the Tax Reform Act of 1986 became law.

As I noted two years ago at the historic tax law's quarter century mark, I was working on Capitol Hill back then for a Representative who served on the Ways and Means Committee. I remember how Democrats and Republicans worked together, each side giving and taking, and the world didn't end.

Ronald Reagan signs TRA 1986 10-22-86President Ronald Reagan, surrounded by Members of Congress from both parties, signs the Tax Reform Act of 1986 on Oct. 22, 1986.

Just look the bonhomie among the group. Bipartisan laughter and pride at crafting a major law, dealing with taxes no less.

We just don't see that Congressional camaraderie nowadays. That's too bad for many reasons.

Until the saner folks on Capitol Hill, and there are a few of them left, get the guts to rein in the wild-eyed troublemakers we won't. And that means we won't get any major bills passed.

It's well past time to stop letting those who just want to stir the pot and then stand back and watch it boil over into the kitchen.

Yes, they were elected to Congress. That doesn't mean, however, that their colleagues who are real leaders, who care about the good of the country instead of just getting votes, have to listen to them or appoint them to powerful committees.

Let's hope it's not too late for this Congress to redeem itself and help us all.

If and when that does happen, we can hear words like Reagan's at the signing ceremony when he applauded members from both sides of the aisle for their work:

"But we must also salute those courageous leaders in the Congress who've made this day possible. To Bob Packwood, Dan Rostenkowski, Russell Long, John Duncan, and Majority Leader Bob Dole; to Jack Kemp, Bob Kasten, Bill Bradley, and Dick Gephardt, who pioneered with their own versions of tax reform -- I salute all of you and all the other Members of the Senate and House whose efforts paid off and whose votes finally won the day. And last but not least, the many members of the administration who must often have felt that they were fighting a lonely battle against overwhelming odds -- particularly my two incomparable Secretaries of the Treasury, Don Regan and Jim Baker -- and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. I feel like we just played the World Series of tax reform -- [laughter] -- and the American people won."

Yes, good things can be accomplished by Congress if enough members and those of us who vote for them demand it.

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