News and Headlines


Podcast: How Reagan's tax reform went wrong

Posted at 3:02 PM, Apr 14, 2016

When Ronald Reagan signed the 1986 Tax Reform Act into law, the Republican president hoped that the law would simplify the tax code and close loopholes. Reforming the tax code had been Reagan’s number one domestic priority during his campaign and it took him more than two years of wrangling members of Congress, even pushing past a blockade by House Republicans.

But according to Pam Olsen, whose resume includes stints at the IRS and U.S. Treasury Department, says the Tax Reform Act did the exact opposite. “It made the tax code a lot bigger. It certainly made the tax code a lot longer and a lot more complicated,” Olsen said.

On the latest DecodeDC podcast, host Jimmy Williams tells the story of the how the Tax Reform Act came to be, the consequences of its passage — including loopholes for billionaires and laymen alike — and how it created an avenue for members of Congress to push through social policy without actually legislating.

To listen to other DecodeDC podcasts, watch edgy videos and read blog posts about politics, politicians and policy, go to And don't miss a new spin-off podcast titled, TrailMix 2016.