Letter to Secretary Paul O’Neill Regarding Tax Reform

The Honorable Paul O’Neill

Secretary of Treasury

U.S. Treasury Department

1500 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20220

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I write on behalf of Citizens for a Sound Economy’s 280,000-strong army of dedicated members to commend you for your efforts to reform fundamentally our nation’s tax code. As you may know, fundamental reform of the tax code has long been the top policy objective for CSE. In the past, CSE has hosted a “Scrap the Code” tour reaching 40 cities to educate citizens on the need to do away with the current system of taxation and replace it with one that is low, fair, and simple.

This year, CSE has embarked on a multi-state grassroots strategy to make tax reform a reality. It is our belief that a policy change as dramatic as fundamental tax reform cannot be accomplished without unrelenting grassroots support from real citizens who share our values. CSE has selected numerous states where taxation has become a focal issue and recruited and mobilized local leaders to fight tax increases proposed to pay for the spending excesses of the past several years.

We believe that by building networks of real people to oppose such tax increases, we can win today’s tax battles and retain a dedicated citizenry ready to mobilize to achieve the greater goal of fundamental tax reform on the federal level. These local leaders have, with the assistance and direction of CSE staff, created local CSE clubs, state policy-specific web sites, and detailed plans on how to approach their mission.

While CSE has undertaken such actions with the intention of building to a crescendo in the next few years, we have been greatly encouraged by your pronouncements on the issue. With bold leadership from you and other Bush administration officials – most importantly, the president himself – coupled with grassroots pressure from CSE activists, we believe that fundamental tax reform can be achieved more expeditiously than anyone could have suspected only a short time ago.

But such optimism must be tempered with a realistic assessment of the challenge. Deductions for children, home mortgage interest payments, college tuition, and retirement investments are very tempting, and myriad special purpose exemptions for various corporations and industries will make for very few allies and an entire city of entrenched opponents. The relative ease with which legislators may add special purpose exemptions and tax loopholes to satisfy lobbyists and voting segments means that we will be taking on not only the tax code, but also the legislative process that has created it.

CSE’s activists and staff look forward to working with you in the months ahead to build for the upcoming battle over tax reform. Only with consistent political leadership from above and citizen-activism from below can we hope to overcome the deep-rooted opposition. Please feel free to contact me at (202) 783-3870 if you would like to discuss ways to coordinate our efforts to win this important battle.


Paul Beckner

CSE President and CEO