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Shelve Tax Bill, U.S. Chamber Says : Reform Plan Could ‘Deindustrialize’ Nation, Group Asserts

Associated Press

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, charging that the tax revision bill awaiting House action could “deindustrialize America,” called on President Reagan and Congress today to abandon the current struggle for tax simplification.

“It’s time to take it off the table and put it aside,” said chamber president Richard Lesher.

The organization, the nation’s largest business trade association, said it is prepared, if necessary, to mount a heavy lobbying effort to defeat both the bill approved last weekend by the Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee as well as Reagan’s plan.

Both measures would completely rewrite the tax code, wiping out scores of current deductions and credits and establishing fewer tax brackets. However, the House version would shift the tax burden away from individuals and toward businesses more than the Administration plan would.

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‘Has Become Worse’

Lesher said his organization’s directors had voted by a 6-1 margin to give up its efforts to try to work with Congress in seeking modifications to the tax revision bill submitted by Reagan in early 1985.

“We have worked throughout the year to make it better. In our opinion, it has not become better, it has become worse,” he told a news conference.

“As long as tax reform in its current form is before the Congress, it will continue to hang like a black cloud over millions of decisions by businesses and consumers alike, interrupting the course of the economic recovery,” he added.

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The chamber, which claims a membership of between 180,000 and 200,000 businesses, business groups and state and local chambers of commerce, previously had not taken a formal position on either the White House tax bill or alternatives in Congress, although it had expressed serious reservations about many provisions.

Warns of Slow Growth

The chamber released results of a study it commissioned by the consulting firm of Laurence H. Meyer & Associates of St. Louis, suggesting that economic growth, as measured by the gross national product, would rise only 2.9% over the next six years if the House bill is enacted, contrasted with 3.5% under existing law.

The analysis also said that adoption of either the House bill or the White House bill would create a federal budget deficit that would be $26 billion higher in 1991 than if the tax code were left alone, and a 1.3% increase in unemployment over the same period.

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