Robert Gordon

Robert Gordon is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Recent Articles

McCain's Delusional Tax Plan

The McCain Agenda: John McCain has adopted a tax plan that covers up massive giveaways to the rich with absurd assertions and faulty calculations.

America's tax code needs a serious overhaul. The last clean-up was in 1986, when Ronald Reagan turned away from his tax-slashing past to partner with a Democratic Congress and close loopholes, change rates, and broaden the tax base. Over the intervening decades, lobbyists have left their Gucci footprints all over the code, and our system is a bigger mess than ever -- one that should give both Democrats and Republicans pause. For instance, America taxes corporations at the second-highest rate in the industrialized world but collects the fourth-lowest amount of corporate tax revenue. Why? Loopholes, special deductions, tax credits, subsidies, and shelters. Politically influential industries get special deals, distorting investment decisions and forcing overall tax rates higher than they need to be. John McCain once seemed eager to pick up the reform mantle. A tough-talking conservative who wraps himself in the Gipper's legacy, inveighs against earmarks, calls himself a deficit hawk, and...

Did Liberals Cause the Sub-Prime Crisis?

Conservatives blame the housing crisis on a 1977 law that helps-low income people get mortgages. It's a useful story for them, but it isn't true.

The idea started on the outer precincts of the right. Thomas DiLorenzo, an economist who calls Ron Paul "the Jefferson of our time," wrote in September that the housing crisis is "the direct result of thirty years of government policy that has forced banks to make bad loans to un-creditworthy borrowers." The policy DiLorenzo decries is the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, which requires banks to lend throughout the communities they serve. The Blame-CRA theme bounced around the right-wing Freerepublic.com. In January it figured in a Washington Times column. In February, a Cato Institute affiliate named Stan Liebowitz picked up the critique in a New York Post op-ed headlined "The Real Scandal: How the Feds Invented the Mortgage Mess." On The National Review 's blog, The Corner, John Derbyshire channeled Liebowitz: "The folk losing their homes? are victims not of 'predatory lenders,' but of government-sponsored -- in fact government- mandated -- political correctness." Last week, a more...

Workers, Stiffed

Progressive critics of the budget reconciliation bills now being melded together by a joint House-Senate conference committee usually attack the measures as tax breaks for the wealthy, paid for with budget cuts for the poor. That's true, as far as it goes. Many of the cuts now being considered -- reductions in Medicaid, Food Stamps, and child support enforcement, together with increases in interest rates on student loans -- wouldn't even finance one-seventh of the recent tax breaks for Americans making over $380,000. But progressives might get more traction by arguing a slightly different point: that conservatives are pushing to eliminate incentives for the work of poor Americans as a way to reduce taxes on the accumulated wealth of the most fortunate. In tax policy, many progressives already complain -- and rightly so -- that President Bush is shifting the tax burden away from capital and onto labor. But the argument equally applies to cuts in programs that provide work incentives by...

Failing Grade

During the second presidential debate last year, George W. Bush ventured that “the No Child Left Behind Act is really a jobs act when you think about it.” Democrats mocked President Bush, but education has always been critical for a president who asks voters to “sense my heart.” It is the only major issue on which he reached across the political aisle -- all the way to Senator Ted Kennedy -- to forge a broad consensus for reform. That's why it's sad now to see Bush eviscerating that consensus and empowering reform's critics. Monday's budget is the latest bad sign. Bush's approach to education marks a striking shift for Republicans. In the 1990s, when then-House speaker Newt Gingrich tried to abolish the Education Department, the GOP had looked hard-hearted. Much as President Bill Clinton moderated a party's soft image by promoting welfare reform, President Bush sweetened a party's tough tone with a Clintonian new deal on education: The federal government would offer record support for...