What has happened since then?
President George W. Bush pushed through a major tax cut in 2001, but Reagan’s tax bill remains the last true overhaul of the tax code. Since then, Democratic presidents have raised the top tax rate to 39.6 percent, while under both Republican and Democratic administrations the number of tax brackets has expanded to seven and a cornucopia of new tax breaks and loopholes has been added. The partisan debate over whether cutting taxes fuels growth rages on, though most economists say that the economy is affected by so many factors that the impact of lowering rates is murky at best. The economy boomed after Reagan’s first round of tax cuts in 1981, but was also helped by a big drop in inflation and interest rates and increased military spending. The 1986 tax bill was followed by a recession in 1990. Taxes went up under the Clinton administration, but the economy grew even faster than it did under Reagan, buoyed by the internet boom. A Congressional Research Service paper in 2012 found “no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth.” Bruce Bartlett, a former adviser to President Reagan who worked on the 1986 tax bill, argues that true reform should be designed to make the system simpler and fairer, not to put more money in wealthy people’s pockets. “In reality,” he says, “there’s no evidence that a tax cut now would spur growth.”