Chapter 6: The Phoenix Project Rostenkowski thought of tax reform as a “phoenix project,” after the mythological creature that rose from the ashes of its own destruction. He stuck to this idea throughout the process, realizing that the tax reform would have to go up in flames before it could be rebuilt. The bank vote was the last straw that tax reform needed to come crashing to its destruction. Rostenkowski realized that nobody really wanted tax reform, but no one wanted to be labeled as being sold out to special interests, so the committee members had to stay on board with tax reform in the end. The choice was between the interest groups they had always supported and the tax reform that no one wanted. There was a constant back and forth fight between Rostenkowski and the members of the Ways and Means Committee, who he had to rely on to create a reform. At times, Rostenkowski had to bribe, compromise, bargain, or threaten members of the committee to get tax reform moving in the right direction. State and local tax deductions proved to be one of the biggest issues that members of the
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