Reagan spearheaded a tax cut in 1981. Three years later, he announced in his State of the Union that he had directed his treasury secretary to develop a plan for a comprehensive tax reform.
Reagan made reform a central component of his re-election campaign that year. He won 49 states. Democrats didn't really have a choice but to work with Reagan, said Steven Billet, director of the legislative affairs program at the George Washington University graduate school of political management.
It was easier to find common ground because most lawmakers were moderates, Billet said. Dan Rostenkowski, a Democrat, sponsored the bill.
"Some of the most liberal names in the Senate voted for it, like Ted Kennedy," said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum. "You have to ask yourself, would that happen in today's environment? No, because they don't fear Donald Trump like they did Ronald Reagan."
Even with bipartisan support, negotiations nearly collapsed multiple times in 1986. But Reagan was there to rally support in critical moments, Gleckman said.
Reagan signed the bipartisan legislation into law more than 10 months after it was introduced. The plan lowered individual and corporate tax rates. It closed loopholes and shifted some of the burden to corporations to offset the lost revenue, neither of which appears to be likely now.