"No one concerned about fighting crime would even think about saying, `Well, three years from now we're going to throw out the criminal code and we'll figure out what to put in its place.'. . .That is exactly what some people in Congress are proposing to do."
Clinton, in a speech to the Mortgage Bankers Association, took aim at a proposal by the National Federation of Independent Business, the nation's largest small business lobby. The plan would scrap the tax code by 2001 and replace it with a dramatically simpler system, such as a flat tax or national sales tax.
"I will not permit it if I can stop it, but it shouldn't pass in the first place," Clinton said.
The president acknowledged that the proposal sounds "almost irresistible but so was the siren song."
The Republican-backed plan capitalizes on widespread anger with the current tax system and the Internal Revenue Service. Clinton said he sympathized with Americans' outrage over the system while criticizing the proposal to replace it.
"I get outraged when I hear about abuses in the IRS, but we are making changes and we must continue to do so," the president said. He said the IRS has made many reforms and should be open to greater change.
Clinton stressed that the proposal would toss out the old system with no known alternative.
"It would mean that you would know there would be no home mortgage deduction, but you wouldn't know what would be in its place. There might be no charitable contribution deduction, but you wouldn't know what would be in its place."
He said that under the guise of reform, some in Congress were pushing "an irresponsible scheme to eliminate our tax system" without a replacement.
"Scrapping the home mortgage deduction, scrapping other middle class tax cuts without presenting a clear alternative is simply reckless for the economy, reckless for businesses, reckless for families' budgets," the president said.
By Terence Hunt ©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed