Robert McIntyre

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

Recent Articles

The Taxonomist

Gore Plan Prevails Remember how George W. Bush regaled the voters last year with his criticism of Al Gore's "targeted" tax cuts? "You only get a tax break if you do exactly what the government tells you to do," Bush frequently carped. Well, Bush has now revealed the fine print of his own tax proposals--and lo and behold, those new details look remarkably like what Gore proposed. On top of the eight tax-cut provisions he campaigned on, Bush's budget adds 29 more, with a price tag of $138 billion over 10 years. If you retrofit your home to use solar energy, or purchase health insurance, or buy long-term-care insurance, or make electricity from garbage, or take care of an ailing parent, or get a computer from your employer so you can work at home because you're disabled, or adopt a child, or set up an international corporate tax shelter, or sell your land to a conservation trust, or do any of a long list of other things that Big Brother Bush thinks are important, you get a tax cut. If...

The Taxonomist

Tax-Cut Fever Alan Greenspan has blessed a tax cut, the budget surpluses are said to be bigger than ever, and Republicans control all branches of the federal government. Are we ready to rumble with George W. Bush's gigantic tax cuts? Can we cut taxes even more? Take a deep breath. The projected surpluses . According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), non-Social Security surpluses over the upcoming decade could be $3.1 trillion, assuming ... well, that's the rub. To reach that staggering surplus estimate, the budget office assumed such things as zero population growth, government wages falling further behind private wages, more and more Americans cheerfully paying the Alternative Minimum Tax, and so forth. It's not the technicians' fault: These implausible assumptions are all required by law. But nobody, including the estimators, thinks that they're realistic. Here's a more believable story . Start by subtracting the $400 billion in projected Medicare surpluses, which an...

The Taxonomist

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, the Republican from Texas, recently bragged that she was the key instigator in persuading the Senate Finance Committee, as part of its pending "marriage penalty reduction" bill, to raise the income level at which a couple enters the 31 percent income tax bracket. The Finance Committee had already decided to raise the qualifying level for the 28 percent bracket for couples. But according to The Washington Post , Hutchison insisted on a higher entry point for the 31 percent tax bracket, too, "so that the [marriage] tax relief would be extended to middle-income couples." Now, this is a particularly dumb statement even by U.S. Senate standards. First of all, couples now in the 31 percent bracket already would get the full benefit of the Finance Committee's plan to raise the starting point for the 28 percent bracket. That's a tax cut that none of the almost two-thirds of couples whose top bracket is now 15 percent would enjoy. In fact, about a quarter of the...

The Taxonomist

Don't be surprised if later this year the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the White House sharply raise their projections of future budget surpluses--perhaps by $1 trillion or more over the next 10 years, not even counting Social Security funds. Such good news, if it occurs, will cheer Republican tax cutters, especially George W. Bush, who are struggling to find the money to pay for the huge upper-income tax cuts they want. It will also encourage Democrats who want to invest more in public programs to improve education, health insurance coverage, and so forth. Nobody should get too excited just yet, however. Even if the budget outlook does get rosier, almost all of the projected improvement will be after 2003, and three-fifths will probably be after 2006. Predicting surpluses that far in advance is a delicate task. The projections can be very sensitive to small changes in assumptions. The CBO's current 10-year surplus projections, for example, assume annual revenue growth of 4.2...

The Taxonomist

Dept. of Boneheaded Studies In 1999, two states, New Hampshire and Tennessee, considered adopting a broad-based income tax. This sent antitax lobbying groups into a frenzy of "studies" purporting to show that such a step would be a disaster for the economies of the two states. The lamest of the reports was published in mid-October by the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), an anti-union group. The report's central observation was that six states that had adopted an income tax around 1970 had seen lower economic growth between 1970 and 1990 than they had between 1950 and 1970, before the income tax went into effect. Clearly, the NTU report concluded, those nefarious income taxes were the culprits behind the slower growth. But the report left out one small point: every single state in the country had lower economic growth after 1970 than before (remember OPEC, stagflation, and all that?). Talk about selective use of data. ...

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