Focus on Tax Policy

Focus on Tax Policy

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In a December 8 commentary, Syracuse University economist Len Burman is critical of the recently announced tax deal between the White House and congressional Republicans. He thinks Obama foolishly allowed himself to be backed into a corner by not proposing an alternative tax policy much earlier.

In a December 7 interview, economist Glenn Hubbard, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush, admitted that many of the Bush tax cuts did very little to stimulate growth and that he doesn’t support making them permanent.

Also on December 7, the Tax Policy Center published distribution tables showing the impact of the recent tax deal between the White House and congressional Republicans. It is compared both to current law, in which all the Bush tax cuts expire, and current policy, in which they are simply extended temporarily without change.

On December 2, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on tax reform: historical trends in income and revenue. Testifying were representatives from the Congressional Budget Office, Joint Committee on Taxation, and Treasury Department.

In a December 1 Gallup poll, 40 percent of people favored keeping all the Bush tax cuts including for the rich, 13 percent favored getting rid of all the tax cuts for everyone, and the rest favored eliminating those for the rich, with rich defined as those with incomes above $250,000; $500,000; and $1 million.

Also on December 1, the Joint Committee on Taxation published a history of key provisions of the federal tax system.

In a November 30 commentary, University of Oregon economist Mark Thoma concluded that the Bush tax cuts did little, if anything, to raise economic growth. Therefore, allowing them to expire is unlikely to reduce growth.

Also on November 30, the American Family Business Foundation published a study detailing the life insurance industry’s lobbying efforts in favor of the estate tax. Family-owned businesses often buy large life insurance policies in order to pay the estate tax when a principal owner dies.

On November 29, the Tax Policy Center published a paper analyzing options for reforming the Alternative Minimum Tax.

I last posted items on this topic on December 1.

Bruce Bartlett is an American historian and columnist who focuses on the intersection between politics and economics. He  blogs daily   and writes a weekly column at The Fiscal Times. Read his most recent column here . Bartlett has written for Forbes Magazine and Creators Syndicate, and his work is informed by many years in government, including as a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House. He is the author of seven books including the New York Times best-seller, Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (Doubleday, 2006).

Bruce Bartlett’s columns focus on the intersection of politics and economics. The author of seven books, he worked in government for many years and was senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House.