Chairman Jack Kemp is founder and current co-director of Empower America, a public policy and advocacy organization. Kemp served as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Bush Administration, and represented the Buffalo, N.Y., area for 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. He played professional football for 13 years as quarterback for the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills. His father was a small-businessman who helped start a small trucking company in and around Los Angeles, CA.
“If you tax something, you get less of it. If you subsidize something, you get more if it. The problem in America today is that we are taxing work, savings, investment, and productivity; and we’re subsidizing debt, welfare, consumption, leisure, and mediocrity.”
Vice Chairman Edwin J. Feulner, Jr. is president of The Heritage Foundation, a leading public policy group in Washington, D.C. He also serves as chairman of the Institute for European Defense and Strategic Studies in London. Feulner, who has a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh, served as consultant for Domestic Policy to President Reagan, and was the Chairman of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.
“Our tax code has become a complex web of penalties, disincentives, loopholes, and preferences. No amount of tinkering at the edges will save the system. The only answer is to replace it with a new system that rewards work, saving and risk-taking.”
Loretta H. Adams started her professional career as a management trainee at the Panama City, Panama, Sears store on a $25-a-week salary. Ms. Adams later immigrated to the United States and went on to become founder of the San Diego-based Market Development, Inc., a consumer, marketing, and opinion research firm with nearly 100 employees. Since 1978, her company has serviced Latin-American consumers in the United States and Latin America and has become one of the top 100 research firms in the country.
“The conditions that produced the current tax system no longer contribute positively to a 21st century global economy. We now have the opportunity to create a tax system that is more responsive to our times, situation, and needs and, hopefully, we will grasp it fully.”
J. Kenneth Blackwell lived in public housing for the first seven years of his life only to later pioneer housing reforms as the Deputy Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Today, he serves as Treasurer of the State of Ohio, having previously held public office on the Cincinnati City Council before becoming mayor of Cincinnati. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, and previously served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and as vice president of Xavier University in Cincinnati.
“There is something fundamentally wrong with a tax system that costs Americans $250 billion to comply. A simpler tax system would help break the chains that currently bind entrepreneurial spirit.”
Herman Cain learned the value of hard work from his father who concurrently worked three jobs – one of which was as a janitor at The Pillsbury Company in Atlanta. At age 12, Herman went to work with his father at Pillsbury, helping him as “assistant janitor.” Twenty-two years later Cain would become a Pillsbury vice president (computer systems) and later be selected as president of the firm’s then-subsidiary company, Godfather’s Pizza, Inc. In 1988, he successfully led a group of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc. senior management in purchasing the chain from Pillsbury. He currently serves as chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc. Prior to his tenure at Godfather’s, Cain worked for the U.S. Navy as a mathematician, the Coca-Cola Company as a business analyst, and was an executive with Burger King Corporation.
“One of America’s greatest strengths is its ability to change…our 82 year old tax ‘mess’ is long overdue for dramatic, sensible change.”
Carroll Campbell served two, four-year terms as one of the most popular and innovative governors in South Carolina’s history. His legacy as governor includes government reform, record job expansion, net tax cuts, economic growth, and investment in his state. Campbell launched his political career in 1970, first serving in the state House and Senate and later in the U.S. Congress, where he served on the Banking, Appropriations, and Ways and Means committees. He also served as chairman of the National Governors’ Association, the Republican Governors’ Association, and the Southern Governors’ Association, as well as Chairman of the Southern Growth Policies Board. Today he is president and CEO of the American Council of Life Insurance.
“The tax system should encourage investment and job creation, foster long-term savings, and increase the focus on individual and family economic responsibility. In short, tax policy should encourage long-term savings for retirement.”
Pete du Pont, during his tenure as governor of Delaware from 1977-1985, implemented a highly successful pro-growth tax policy by dramatically lowering marginal tax rates, causing the state’s economy to boom and overall tax collections to jump, and enacting a constitutional amendment that limited both tax and state spending increases. He also served as a state legislator and Congressman and ran as a Republican candidate for President of the United States. He currently serves as policy chairman of the National Center for Policy Analysis, and writes a weekly column on public policy that is distributed to more than four hundred newspapers across the nation.
“The men and women who spoke to us reflected an American consensus: Our tax system is destroying our opportunities. It’s time to replace it.”
Jack Faris started working at age 13 earning 50 cents an hour at his parent’s service station. Faris learned early in life the challenges of running a small family business and the importance of hard work. After running his own business in Nashville, Tennessee, he became president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation’s largest small business advocacy organization with more than 600,000 members.
“Regulation and taxes are strangling small business on main street. Give us relief and we will create the jobs and build America’s future for our children and grandchildren.”
Matt Fong serves as Treasurer of the State of California. Prior to his election, Fong served as Vice Chairman of the State Board of Equalization, California’s tax agency. Fong streamlined the agency, cutting millions of dollars of waste, reformed the state’s tax code sponsoring changes to the unitary tax, and made the agency more “taxpayer friendly.” A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy currently holding the rank of Lt. Col. USAFR, he earned an MBA and law degree, started a small business, and worked for Sheppard, Mullin, Richtor and Hampton as a transactional corporate attorney.
“Too many Americans are sitting on the economic sidelines. A progressive single rate flat tax will radically jump start job creation, moving the unemployed off the sidelines to jobs.”
Theodore J. Forstmann is one of the most admired entrepreneurs in America with an unrivaled record of successful investments. Forstmann splits his time between running his firm, speaking out on behalf of economic opportunity and growth, and helping children worldwide. He has poured his energies and resources into leading relief efforts in Bosnia, sponsoring charities in South Africa, and funding scholarships and teaching students in America’s inner cities. He is the senior partner of Forstmann Little & Co.
“The current tax system is ridiculously complicated, economically destructive, and morally corrosive. We desperately need a new tax code that puts the individual – not government – at the center of the equation.”
Dean Kleckner took over the rented family farm in Iowa at the age of 18 when his father died. Kleckner served in the Army and later returned to Iowa where he started on his own with a dozen sows, a dozen cows and 300 chickens. Today he owns a 350-acre corn, soybean, and hog farm, and serves as President of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a post he has held since 1986. He also serves on the U.S. Advisory Committee on Trade Policy, a post to which he was first appointed by President Reagan, and reappointed by Presidents Bush and Clinton.
“Our tax system must be simple and equitable for all taxpayers, with no loopholes. It has to let hard-working taxpayers keep more of the money they have earned.”
Shirley Peterson is president of Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. Prior to assuming the college presidency, she practiced tax law and also served as Commissioner of Internal Revenue under President Bush and Assistant Attorney General (Tax Division) at the U.S. Justice Department under President Bush. She was raised on farm in Colorado.
“Citizens from around the country told us that the current law is too complex. This complexity breeds disrespect for the law and for our government. It time to repeal the Internal Revenue Code and start over.”
John Snow worked his way through college as a sports coach. Today he serves as chairman, president, and CEO of CSX Corporation in Richmond, Virginia, and has been with the company since 1977. Snow, who has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Virginia and a law degree from George Washington University, also served as Deputy Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, as a private attorney and a college professor.
“The current tax system dims our prospects for the future and must be replaced by a new system for the 21st century which helps Americans to capitalize on opportunities – not stifle economic growth and entrepreneurial activity.”
John Wieland always worked part-time growing up, from working at a gas station to delivering newspapers to stocking vending machines. Today, he is a president of John Wieland Homes, Inc., of Atlanta, employing more than 700 full-time employees and thousands of subcontractors. For Wieland, success has meant the ability to give back to his community by providing housing for the working poor and working with Habitat for Humanity, formerly serving as a member of the International Board of Habitat.
“The consensus of the American people demands a completely new, simple, and fair tax code. Increased prosperity for ALL will be the outcome. The time is now.”
TRC ADVISERS AND STAFF
Grace-Marie Arnett, Executive Director
Alan Reynolds, Research Director
Richard Myers, Public Relations Counsel
ECONOMIC AND TECHNICAL ADVISERS
Stephen Entin, Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation
Daniel Mitchell, Heritage Foundation
Steven Moore, CATO Institute
Bruce Bartlett, National Center for Policy Analysis
Also, David Wentworth, Judy Shelton, John Mueller, Arthur Hall
STAFF OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON ECONOMIC GROWTH AND TAX REFORM:
Elizabeth Kern and Scott Sundstrom
Also, Melinda Schriver, Gilbert Pringle, Brian Pleva
Pamela Olson Gary Gasper
Donald Korb Jeanne Hoenicke
Fred Goldberg Mark Weinberger
SENIOR WRITER: Jennifer Grossman
Prof. Wayne Angell
Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Dr. Norman Ture, Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Brian Tracy, Brian Tracy International
William Lehrfeld and Marie Jaeger
Grace Ann Leach and Anthony Fernandez
Burson-Marsteller: Tom Bell, CEO; Richard Moore; Don Cunningham; Gene Grabowski; Ken Rietz and Maria Sheehan
Ziff-Davis Publishing Company: Eric Hippeau, CEO; Herbert Stern
LIAISONS TO THE MAJORITY LEADER AND SPEAKER:
LIAISONS AND ASSISTANTS TO COMMISSIONERS:
Frederick Ahearn Dave Lane
Karen Asano Eileen Leach
Mary Blasinsky Don Lipton
Robert Blatz Jim Lucier
Denise Braye Amy McClernan
Ginny Bueno Katy McGregor
Jenny Camper Veronica Montali
Faye Chapman Grover Norquist
Susann Cole Ceci O’Connell
Virginia Correll Karen Olson
Karen Coyle Christian Pinkston
Dave Cullen Kathy Rowan
Stan Devereux Steve Spears
Jeff Dickerson Patti Stinger
Tina Drennan Joan Trimble
Mark Elam Ken Vest
Barry Finkelstein Mary Wallace
Arnold Havens Jamie Wickett
Melba Kidd Pat Wolff
Ross Korves Kathy Woodall
Kent Knutson Sharon Zelaska
Charles Kupperman Brad Zuber
The commission would not have been able to do its work without the dedicated and expert assistance of these people who volunteered their time and talents. And finally, thank you to the many people who provided financial support, to our witnesses, to those who wrote us, and to the hundreds of others who helped facilitate our work.