The world’s second-wealthiest man is worth about $75 billion, but he isn’t worried about the government taking a bite out of his estate after he’s gone. In fact, Buffett thinks the estate tax, which applies to just a few thousand estates a year, is a reasonable way to allocate resources, especially in a society in which the rich have gotten much richer over the last few decades. Buffett’s main concern is the emergence of “dynastic wealth” that “goes totally against what built this country, what this country stands for.” In an interview Tuesday, Buffett criticized the latest GOP proposal to get rid of the estate tax: "If they pass the bill they're talking about, I could leave $75 billion to a bunch of children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And if I left it to 35 of them, they'd each have a couple billion dollars ... Is that a great way to allocate resources in the United States?” (CNBC)
“Tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product is expected to be 16.5 percent next year. The long-term average in a full-employment economy is 18.5 percent of GDP; if revenue were at that level for the coming decade, debt would be $3.2 trillion lower and the 10-year fiscal gap would be halved. Returning to past revenue levels, however, will be inadequate over time, because an aging population will increase Medicare and Social Security costs. This need not pose a problem: Revenue was roughly 19 percent of GDP in the late 1990s, and economic conditions were excellent.”
– Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Richard E. Rubin, writing in The Washington Post
“You … often hear the claim that a lot of tax cuts will ‘pay for themselves,’ that they’ll cause so much additional economic activity that the revenue feedback from that activity will fully offset the direct revenue loss caused by the tax cut so that you end up making money for the federal government, or at least not losing any money. Now, of course that is theoretically possible and it would happen at extreme rates. I mean if a country had a 99 percent flat rate income tax and lowered it to 98 percent, I believe that they almost certainly would collect more revenue at the 98 percent rate than they did at the 99 percent rate. But the idea that this type of effect would occur at today’s tax levels just requires responses that are much bigger than statistical evidence would support and I think much bigger than common sense would indicate if you just ask people how they themselves would react to the tax cut.”
It’s summertime and the driving is anything but easy if you want to get to your favorite beach or mountain cabin for a well-deserved break. As lawmakers consider a plan to raise federal fuel taxes by 15 cents a gallon, here’s a look at the current state-level taxes on gasoline, courtesy of the Tax Foundation:
The New York Times’ Jim Tankersley tweets: “In order to raise enough revenue to start paying down the debt, Trump would need tariffs to be ~4% of GDP. They're currently 0.2%.”
Read Tankersley’s full breakdown of why tariffs won’t come close to eliminating the deficit or paying down the national debt here.
The “short-term” health plans the Trump administration is promoting as low-cost alternatives to Obamacare aren’t bound by the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to spend a substantial majority of their premium revenues on medical care. UnitedHealth is the largest seller of short-term plans, according to Axios, which provided this interesting detail on just how profitable this type of insurance can be: “United’s short-term plans paid out 44% of their premium revenues last year for medical care. ACA plans have to pay out at least 80%.”