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Left, Right and Wrong on Taxes

Left, Right and Wrong on Taxes

By Glenn Hubbard

22 November 2010

GIVEN the furor from both the left and the right, one would be tempted to think that the initial proposal from the co-chairmen of President Obama’s fiscal commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, must offer an excellent starting point for a discussion of deficit reduction.

Indeed, it does — particularly when it comes to tax policy. America’s fiscal mess is real. As Messrs. Bowles and Simpson aptly demonstrate, we are in a difficult situation in large part because we have designed entitlements for a welfare state we cannot afford. And, perhaps less obviously, they show how we have used the tax code as a vehicle for special-purpose spending that weakens both the efficiency and fairness of our tax system.

When I left my job as the deputy assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy in 1993, I left a message on my office blackboard for my successor. I wrote, “Broaden the base, lower the rates” repeatedly until I filled the entire space. I then had it covered with wax so it could not be erased. (Yes, the government charged me for my bit of vandalism. But it was worth it.)

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This article was published by The New York Times online on 15 November 2010.


Articles in the Perspectives series plus a large library of books, studies, speeches, articles and DVDs on a wide range of public policy issues can be found at www.nzbr.org.nz

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Related studies and commentary:

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