At an Oval Office ceremony naming Mack as the chairman and Breaux the vice chairman of the panel, reported Bloomberg News, the president said, ”This is an essential task for our country and it’s a task that will treat our taxpayers more fairly.”
Both senators served on the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee.
President Bush, who signed into law five tax cuts totaling $1.85 trillion during his first term, said the 3,000-page tax code is too complex and discourages savings, according to Bloomberg.
Reforming the tax code was a major theme of the president’s domestic platform during his re-election campaign.
The nine-member panel will have until July 31 to report its recommendations to the Treasury Department.
“We’ve asked the panel to take a hard look at everything,” Treasury Secretary John Snow told reporters after the announcement. “Everything is on the table here.”
The committee will explore options including eliminating some tax deductions and using the revenue to reduce tax rates, and scrapping the tax code entirely and instituting a flat tax or national sales tax system.
Mack and Breaux said President Bush did not try to send them in any specific direction in their recommendations.
“The president was pretty clear in his comments with us — that we have great latitude, there is no end result that he was trying to lead us to, other than the fact that he said, you know, this is got to be simpler,” said Mack, according to the Associated Press. “The other objective they asked us to keep in mind is that it should be pro-growth, it should create greater opportunities for job creation.
“I frankly begin the process without conclusions in my mind about what should take place,” he added.