David Callahan

David Callahan is a senior fellow at Demos and editor of PolicyShop, the Demos blog.

Recent Articles

Why Does the Center for American Progress' Budget Plan Embrace the Bush Tax Cuts?

(Center for American Progress)
The Center for American Progress (CAP) is out with a budget plan that would reduce deficits by $4.1 trillion over the next decade and, at first glance, seems to makes a good deal of sense. Two former Treasury secretaries—Larry Summers and Robert Rubin—are listed as co-authors of the plan, along with Roger Altman, William Daley, John Podesta, Leslie Samuels, Neera Tanden, Antonio Weiss, Michael Ettlinger, Seth Hanlon, and Michael Linden. An impressive brain trust by any measure. The plan would raise about $1.8 trillion in revenue over the next decade, which is about $200 billion more than what President Obama is asking for. It would do this by raising the top tax bracket back to 39.6 percent, where it was under Clinton, and also raising the top rate for capital gains to 28 percent—nearly double what it is today—as well as treating dividends as ordinary income. CAP's plan would also simplify today's labyrinth of tax deductions and exemptions, and limit the value of some deductions for...

Should Social Security be Part of Fiscal Talks?

It's possible to make higher earners pick up nearly all the tab for deficit reduction.

(Center for American Progress Action Fund)
Top Democrats and leading progressives are arguing that Social Security shouldn't be part of negotiations over the fiscal cliff. As Senator Richard Durbin said in a speech on Tuesday: Social Security doesn't add a penny to the debt and should not be part of any deficit reduction talks. We can and must do what we can to ensure its solvency for another 75 years, but that is another topic for another time. Likewise, writing in the Huffington Post yesterday, my colleague Bob Kuttner called Social Security (and Medicare) "extraneous" to the fiscal challenges at hand. Moreover, Kuttner writes: cutting Social Security and Medicare for the sake of an arbitrary and needless budgetary reduction of $4 trillion and as a "solution" to an entirely contrived fiscal crisis is bad policy. It is bad economic policy and worse social policy. And for Democrats, it is dumb politics. If Republicans want to be the ones to attack America's two most valued social programs, Obama should let them go right ahead—...

A Mandate for a Conservative Victory on Taxes?

The tax cuts enacted by Congress under George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003 stand as the greatest achievement ever for small government conservatives. While a good chunk of Reagan's historic tax cuts had been cancelled out before he even left office, Bush's tax cuts have lived on and on, draining trillions from the U.S. Treasury. These cuts have not, as hoped, triggered deep cuts in government spending and "starved the beast." Instead, they have simply fed the debt. Now, though, the stage may finally be set for the Bush tax cuts to start achieving their goal of downsizing government—all with the acquiescence of a Democratic president and Congress. That's because, bizarrely, the mainstream Democratic position is that the bulk of the Bush tax cuts should stand and, instead of repealing those cuts in their entirety, the U.S. should only end tax breaks for the rich and then make up the rest of the lost revenue by enacting deep cuts in government spending. As I wrote yesterday in a Reuters:...

Closing the Jobs Gap Requires Much Bigger Thinking

(White House)
Today's job numbers show that the economy continues to creep in the right direction—but also that job creation will remain a paramount challenge over the next few years. The problem is not just the millions of working-age adults who remain unemployed or under-employed. It's also that the labor force is growing every month by some 100,000 would-be workers, according to the Hamilton Project—or over a million people every year who need work. The Obama Administration has trumpeted all the jobs created since the President took office in January 2009—more jobs, actually, than were created under President George W. Bush. But the fact is that, as the Hamilton Project points out, the overall "jobs gap" has continued to grow even as the unemployment rate has fallen as more workers have poured into the labor force and the economy has way underperformed. And that jobs gap will continue to grow if the recovery continues at only a creeping pace. Today's job numbers of 171,000 new jobs may look...

Why Should Government Respond Differently to Natural vs. Economic Disasters?

(FEMA.gov)
With millions of Americans struggling to recover from Sandy, few people question that government has a central role to play in rebuilding battered communities in New Jersey and other states. Natural disasters are often highpoint moments for the public sector, reminding us of the power of common institutions that allow citizens to help each other in times of need. The residents, say, of sunny Los Angeles needn't do anything special at this moment, because they have already been doing something—helping fund FEMA with their tax dollars so that it has the capacity to respond to unexpected events like a "Frankenstorm." But here's a question: If most of us take for granted that we should be there for our fellow citizens during natural disasters, using the tool of government, why is it so controversial that we should also lend a helping hand during man-made economic disasters? Why are unemployment benefits under attack in numerous states, even as millions remain jobless through no fault of...

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