Jared Bernstein & Ben Spielberg

Jared Bernstein is a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

Ben Spielberg is a research associate with the CBPP, where he manages its Full Employment Project.

Recent Articles

Three Reasons Trickle-Down Tax Cuts Don’t Work

(Photo: Shutterstock)
(Photo: Shutterstock) History shows that bad economic ideas almost never die, especially when they serve the wealthy and powerful. There’s no better example of this truth than trickle-down tax cuts. As we write this, the Trump administration is teeing up a tax plan that slashes taxes for the wealthy and the corporate sector, does little for everyone else (repealing the Affordable Care Act actually raises taxes on some with low and moderate incomes), and stiffs the U.S. Treasury to the tune of $6.2 trillion, according to the Tax Policy Center’s estimates. Evidence does not hurt this zombie. We and others have shown the lack of correlation between tax changes and the indices of growth—GDP, jobs, incomes—touted by the trickle downers. Among those claiming that Trump’s plan will spur economic growth are the same folks who told us that a trickle-down tax cut experiment in Kansas in 2013 would bring an “immediate and lasting boost” to the state’s economy. Four years later, that immediate...

Watch Out for Even More Tax Breaks -- for the Rich

How we squander resources through the tax code, and how that could get a lot worse in the age of Trump

(Photo: AP/Matt Rourke)
(Photo: AP/Matt Rourke) This article will appear in the Winter 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . T hink, if you will, about taxing and spending. The former—taxing—occurs when the government levies some claim on your income. It could be a local sales tax on a tube of toothpaste, a Medicare or Social Security deduction from your paycheck, or an income tax check to the federal IRS. Spending is what the government does with tax revenue. Local governments spend your property taxes on public schools; the feds finance social insurance, defense, the safety net, and so on. Many people think that taxing and spending, while complementary, are entirely distinct. Not so. There’s an important way in which the federal government spends through the tax code. The technical term is tax expenditures. These include tax credits, deductions, and exemptions. You can’t begin to understand the scope, the inequities, and some of the venerable benefits of our tax system without...