Today, we sat down with Chuck Marr, the Center’s Director of Federal Tax Policy, to discuss the tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year.
BEYOND THE NUMBERS
At its meeting yesterday, the President’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform discussed imposing a numerical limit on federal spending as a share of the economy. One of the commission’s co-chairs has suggested capping spending and revenues at 21
percent of gross domestic product (GDP), the average spending level over the past 40 years. But as I explain in a new report, averages from the past aren’t a good guide for the future:
On our conference call for journalists this morning, former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Alan Blinder made the case for letting President Bush’s tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 expire this year and using the savings over the next two years for measures that would better stimulate the economy, such as extended unemployment benefits and food stamps. Below is the audio and a cleaned-up transcript of the presentation portion of the call.
Even some key members of Congress who agree that President Bush’s tax cuts for people making over $250,000 are unaffordable have raised concerns that letting them expire in December would slow the already weak economy. Fortunately, Congress can boost short-term growth and help reduce long-term deficits: sunset the high-income tax cuts on schedule, re-channel the near-term revenues to far more efficient ways to generate growth and jobs, and use the long-term savings to reduce the deficit.
In an earlier post I explained that when it comes to the nation’s long-term debt problem, what matters is the size of the debt held by the public, not the gross debt, and warned that the President’s deficit commission would go seriously off track if it focused on the wrong measure. The Center issued a new report today that explores this issue in greater depth. Here’s the executive summary:
Former Federal Reserve vice chairman Alan Blinder makes an excellent suggestion in today’s Wall Street Journal: Congress should let the Bush tax cuts for people earning over $250,000 expire in December and use the savings to pay for jobless benefits and other programs that “put more spending into the economy than the tax hike takes out, thus creating jobs.”
Tomorrow morning the Senate Finance Committee begins debate on what to do with the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire at the end of the year. Here’s some homework to prepare for this important hearing:
My colleagues and I have written repeatedly (for instance, here, here, and here) about the need for Congress to enact another round of stimulus legislation that would extend unemployment benefits and provide additional fiscal relief to states, both of which would help strengthen the fragile recovery.
Today, the Center’s Executive Director, Robert Greenstein, and Director of Federal Fiscal Policy, Jim Horney, testified before the President’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Here’s some of what they said:
A recent Heritage Foundation backgrounder would have you believe that President Bush’s tax cuts, two wars, and a new prescription drug program under Medicare “play a relatively minor role in the growth of future deficits.” Quite the contrary, the tax cuts alone are a huge factor.