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“Senators arrived in a Finance Committee conference room to find crystal bowls filled with green and white M&Ms imprinted with pictures of President Ronald Reagan, as well as Democratic Rep. Dan Rostenkowski and Republican Sen. Bob Packwood, the committee chairs who engineered the last tax overhaul in 1986,” she reported Tuesday.

Mr. Baucus wanted to remind the committee members that Reagan ran for re-election in 1984 on the kind of revenue-neutral reform he’s thinking about, which would bring down the rates. Reagan not only achieved his tax cuts, lowering the top rate to 28 percent, but he won bipartisan support, including Democratic leaders such as Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey.

The ’84 election was, in effect, a referendum on Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts that ended a severe recession in two years and sent the economy soaring. Compare Mr. Obama’s fourth-quarter growth rate of 0.6 percent to Reagan’s four quarterly percentage rates in 1984: 8.5, 7.9, 6.9 and 5.8.

That year, Reagan carried 49 states and nearly won Minnesota, the home state of former Vice President Walter Mondale, who ran on raising income taxes. Mr. Baucus wants his party to remember that painful lesson and follow Reagan’s lead.

“I don’t dispute [that],” Ms. Montgomery quotes Mr. Baucus as saying, regarding the White House’s lack of interest in comprehensive tax reform. “But it’s irrelevant. Because I’m just going ahead.”Twenty-four years after Reagan left office, his tax-cut reform policies are still looked upon as the gold standard for stronger, job-creating economic growth.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.