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Reform fiscal policies to make them equitable

The League of Women Voters of Buffalo/Niagara has observed a serious and widening wealth/income gap in the United States. During the post-World War II period through the mid-1970s, economic gains were relatively equitably distributed among all income groups. But during the past 30 years, with a short exception, the very top income group has gained the most because of policies Congress created that tilt economic benefits to the extremely wealthy.

The short exceptional period occurred when Congress passed the 1986 Tax Reform Act that changed the federal income tax code, making it more progressively equitable, closing loopholes and including capital gains as ordinary income. The period was short-lived because outside influences, led by lobbyists for wealthy and corporate interests, successfully encouraged Congress to throw out almost all the reforms.

In the mid-1980s, the League of Women Voters of the United States adopted criteria for evaluating federal fiscal policies. The league believes federal fiscal policy should provide for adequate and flexible funding of federal government programs through an equitable tax system that is progressive overall and includes responsible deficit policies that do not sacrifice important social programs. Income should be the major tax base for federal revenues with a progressive rate structure and capital gains included as ordinary income. Federal income tax should be progressive, rather than proportional, to promote equal opportunity and economic mobility. We urge Congress to reform federal fiscal policies to make them more equitable.

Joan T. Parks

President, League of Women

Voters of Buffalo/Niagara