Robert McIntyre

Robert S. McIntyre is director of Citizens for Tax Justice and a contributing editor for The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Why There Was No Stimulus Bill

The best news on the economic and budget front in December was the failure of Republicans to ram their big corporate tax-cut package through Congress in the name of "stimulus." The bad news was that nothing was done to boost the economy and help those most hurt by the recession. What went wrong? Unfortunately, press reports have offered little help in sorting things out, since reporters apparently believe it is their professional duty to report both sides' assertions without qualifying them with factual information. So here's a chronology of what really happened. Stage 1: The Deal Soon after the terrorist attacks in September, the White House and congressional leaders of both parties agreed on a set of principles for a stimulus package. Principle one was cost: a total of about $60 billion to $75 billion. Principle two was that the measures should be quick (to help the economy now) and temporary (to avoid exacerbating our long-term budget problems). Principle three was that most of the...

The Taxonomist

The Bush administration has come up with still another outrageous tax-giveaway scheme, this time not by legislation but by administrative fiat. In mid-December, the administration announced that it would soon send out billions of dollars in tax refunds to companies that have flouted the tax laws--and to the major accounting firms that helped them do so. At issue is something called the "research and experimentation" tax credit, which dates back to Ronald Reagan's 1981 tax-cut law. According to the congressional reports on the original legislation, the free market doesn't do an adequate job of encouraging scientific advances. Not only is research inherently risky, it was argued, but businesses that engage in successful research often find that the fruits of their efforts generate public benefits well beyond the profits accruing to the companies. Consequently, "many businesses have been reluctant to allocate scarce investment funds for uncertain [or inadequate] rewards." Whatever you...

The Taxonomist

Today's lesson: Why paying down the debt is good for Social Security (and the rest of the government, too). George W. Bush feels those projected federal budget surpluses burning a hole in his pocket. And he wants to do away with them as quickly as possible, with big tax cuts. Some of my liberal friends feel a similar sensation. They've charged Clinton and Gore with pursuing a Coolidge-like economic strategy that would prioritize paying down the debt over bold new spending. But there are good liberal reasons for making debt reduction our first priority, at least for now. For one thing, in a full employment economy, paying down debt is good Keynesian countercyclical macroeconomic policy, which will help sustain long-term growth. Throwing gasoline on the hot economy by increasing spending or cutting taxes runs the risk of re-igniting inflation and forcing the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates. Equally important, reducing...

The Taxonomist

A trillion here, a trillion there ... As you've probably heard, government estimators now predict some $1.9 trillion in non-Social Security budget surpluses over the next decade if current tax and spending policies are maintained. That's more than a $1 trillion increase from what was predicted just last February. What's going on? The improved budget outlook reflects higher revenue projections and the accompanying drop in interest payments from a lower national debt. (The estimates assume that all the increased revenues go to debt reduction.) What's most interesting is that there has been very little change in expected revenue growth over the 2001-2010 period. Instead, the improved long-term revenue outlook is almost entirely due to a big boost in expected revenues in fiscal 2000, which ends in September. Because this year's anticipated revenues are now much higher, so are future revenue projections, even with hardly any change in expected growth rates after this year. Fiscal 2000...

The $212-Billion Giveaway

Special-interest zeal to use the national-security crisis as an excuse for huge new upper-income tax breaks continues unabated in Washington, D.C. On a party-line vote, the House on October 24 approved a bloated "stimulus" tax-cut bill that makes a mockery of the previous bipartisan agreement between congressional leaders and the administration that additional stimulus measures should be temporary and limited to a total of $50 billion to $75 billion. Instead, House Republicans have adopted a laundry list of new tax breaks, some explicitly permanent, that are officially expected to cost a staggering $212 billion over the next three fiscal years--and heaven only knows how much thereafter. With typical dishonesty, the bill's backers call it a $99-billion measure, referring only to its first-year cost. Sadly, the press has been going along with this charade. Two-thirds of this latest round of GOP tax cuts would go to corporations. The tax changes for individuals, which include a 10...

Pages