Robert McIntyre

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

Recent Articles

The Taxonomist

Compassionate Tax-Cutters? Now that John McCain has joined George W. Bush in presenting a major tax-cut plan, the two GOP candidates are engaged in a debate that is, by conservative standards, unusual: Whose proposal does the most for taxpayers in the middle and lower portions of the income scale? Each candidate claims that the other's plan does little or nothing for these taxpayers. In this case, actually, both candidates are right. Bush targets only 11 percent of his tax cuts to the three-fifths of all taxpayers from the bottom to the mid-dle of the income scale; McCain offers these 76 million taxpayers a mere 5.5 percent of his tax reductions. As it turns out, both Bush and McCain give almost three-quarters of their tax cuts to the best-off fifth of the population. But within that fifth, there is a major distinction. Bush compassionately targets 37 percent of his total tax cuts to the top 1 percent , those making...

The Taxonomist:

In his 1997 tax deal with Congress, Bill Clinton helped add multiple new items to our tax forms, such as tax credits for children, deductions and credits for college expenses, a new flavor of IRAs, medical savings accounts, and more--along with a variety of eligibility rules and phase-outs. The IRS managed to squeeze all of these onto the 1040 form, but it'll be hard to make space for any more lines without resorting to obituary-size type and a magnifying glass. Yet in this year's State of the Union, the president has proposed an even longer list of additions to the tax form. There's a new kind of college tax credit/deduction as well as tax subsidies for long-term care expenses, health insur-ance credits, still another type of retirement savings vehicle, a new adjustment for certain charitable donations for nonitemizers, different standard deductions for two-earner couples versus one-earner couples, and so on. Yes, I understand the president feels he can't get his policy initiatives...

The False Messiah: Pete Peterson's Revelations Are Not Gospel

Virtually without challenge, Pete Peterson claims to be a champion of the middle class. But his proposals would actually cut taxes for the rich and benefits for middle-income people.

Peter G. Peterson, as he cheerfully admits, is not a member of the middle class. He's a rich Republican Wall Street investment banker. But in his crusade against deficits and entitlements, he adroitly poses as a champion of the middle class. Given his circumstances, it's not entirely surprising that Peterson is an outspoken opponent of the federal government's two most progressive (and successful) programs: the graduated income tax and Social Security. What is odd is that his pose as a friend of the common American succeeds; that he publishes in liberal journals like the Atlantic and the New York Review ; and that he enjoys a largely uncritical press. Even odder is the fact that Bill Clinton, after presiding over the most progressive tax reform in two decades, would name Peterson as one of his ten appointments to the newly formed Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform. Peterson is at the epicenter of a growing network dedicated to demonizing entitlements. In order to...

The Taxonomist

The Bush Bear Market? As soon as the U.S. Supreme Court chose George W. Bush as our next president, the stock market fell precipitously. Wall Street analysts who had been loudly insisting on the need for a Bush victory suddenly began to find all kinds of new reasons for the market's problems--poor corporate profits, weak consumer spending, energy price jumps, and high interest rates, among others. All plausible. But few analysts were willing to admit the obvious: Bush's plans to reverse the tight fiscal policies of the Clinton years with big upper-income tax cuts and hugely expensive privatization of Social Security have made Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve more reluctant to cut interest rates. To be sure, 2000 was a rotten year for stocks all around. But the Fed's refusal to lower interest rates in December precipitated a major additional market sell-off. In just the first week after Bush was certified by the Supremes, the NASDAQ index fell...

The Taxonomist:

People often talk about how the federal income tax should not push people deeper into poverty. One way to measure how well the system performs in this regard is to look at how much a person or family can earn before income taxes kick in. Current law's combination of standard deductions, personal exemptions, and credits yields some fairly odd results. This year, for a single person without children, the income tax threshold is $8,275; in other words, a person in this category will not pay income tax on the first $8,275 of wage earnings. For married people without children, the threshold is $12,950, or $6,475 per person--a marriage penalty. When children enter the picture, things get even stranger. If a single person has a child, the tax threshold jumps by about $13,300. If a couple has a child, the threshold rises by only $10,400. (For additional children, the changes in the tax threshold are more similar among couples and single parents, about $5,400 for a second child and about $2,...

Pages