Thursday, March 22, 2012

If you stuck Jon Chait end to end, he would reach a consensus

Jon Chait writes

 Ryan explained that there’s a growing bipartisan consensus that we should close tax deductions and loopholes and lower rates. “What we have here on tax reform is a new emerging consensus,” says Ryan. “The president and his party leaders are outside this consensus even though his own treasury secretary says the better way to go is to broaden the base and lower rates.”
Now, there’s not really a growing consensus that tax reform is good. The consensus has existed among economists forever.

and I throw a cow.

Consensus among economists ?  You must be joking.  I am an economist and I absolutely oppose lowering rates whether or not loopholes are eliminated.  As to loopholes, well it depends.  Should we eliminate the mortgage interest deduction ? Sure (but not yet -- and not quickly -- low housing investment is a problem now).  The deduction for charitable contributions not so much.  Tax employer provided health insurance when the Republicans stop trying to kill Obamacare (that is on the first of never).  Eliminate the R&D tax credit ? Why are you nuts ? Eliminate the investment tax credit ? Why tax reinvested profits at all ?

No one like tax expenditures in the abstract (as almost everyone dislikes high government spending in the abstract).  It is impossible to get a consensus once one discusses which deductions to eliminate.

You have long supported broadening the base and lowering rates.  The economists who basically agree with Paul Ryan have long supported tax reform.  Most non Randian economists do to. But many of us don't.

If you want to claim there is a consensus, show me a poll. Also one on just what should  capital gains tax rates, tax treatment of capital income and top income tax rates.  On the second set of questions, I am willing to bet a small amount of money at even odds that most members of the American Economic Association disagree with Ryan about the direction in which policy should change.

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