Robert McIntyre

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

Recent Articles

The Taxonomist: Wild Pitch

Late in the evening of St. Patrick's Day, while much of America was out carousing, our hardworking U.S. senators stayed in session. It was time for the Senate to take its first stab at addressing Social Security's long-term financial health since President Bush began his push to restructure the program. The result wasn't pretty. Did our devoted lawmakers vote to give the program a new infusion of revenues to meet its needs? To reduce future benefits to bring them in line with expected receipts? Or to finally take some steps to solve Social Security's most daunting problem, the government's ballooning debt? No, no, and heavens no. Instead, our fearless leaders voted to increase Social Security benefits, in a way carefully targeted mainly to benefit the best-off retirees. In its late-night session, the Senate agreed to a budget amendment that calls for boosting after-tax Social Security benefits by an average of 14 percent for retirees with annual incomes greater than $200,000. Meanwhile,...

They Make It Up. You Decide.

Last fall, after my group put out a study detailing widespread tax avoidance by America's largest and most profitable corporations, the right-wing Heritage Foundation published a screed attacking us. It was one blatant misstatement after another. I e-mailed the author, Norbert Michel, to point out his many factual errors, but he declined to correct them. At that point, I was willing to ignore his criticism -- after all, why give publicity to patently baseless charges? This March, however, a shortened version of Michel's claptrap appeared on the Web site of Heritage's ally, the FOX News Channel (which, of course, never asked for a “fair and balanced” reply). We soon started getting negative e-mails. Some were from typical FOX News aficionados -- e.g., “Are you people morons?” -- but others came from folks who usually find us trustworthy -- e.g., “I find [one of Michel's points] troubling.” So I've decided to go public with my response. Michel called his initial salvo “Anything But...

A Double-Barreled Attack

George W. Bush's Social Security proposals have come under heavy and deserved attack over the past few months. But a few key points should be made clearer. First, repeat after me: Cutting Social Security benefits does not mean “saving” Social Security. It means “cutting” Social Security. We can debate whether that's advisable, but we shouldn't let anyone misname it. Second, Social Security's most daunting problem isn't its small projected funding shortfall. The real crisis is that the rest of the government stole the Social Security Trust Fund, spent it, and, because of Bush's tax cuts, won't be able to pay it back (or, pretty soon, do much of anything else either). On paper, saving Social Security is easy. A mere 7-percent increase in payroll taxes would allow the trust fund to pay promised benefits all the way through 2075. Simply boosting the 6.2-percent Social Security payroll-tax rate on workers and employers to 6.65 percent would do the trick. So would raising the earnings cap on...

State Corporate-Tax Follies

If you're unhappy with the mess George W. Bush has made of the federal corporate income tax, you'll be less happy to learn that things are even worse in the states. Last September, my group published a study showing that America's biggest and most profitable corporations now shelter more than half of their U.S. profits from federal income taxes. We've since taken a hard look at what corporations pay in state income taxes -- and yikes! Of the 275 Fortune 500 corporations in our federal study, 252 disclosed their state income-tax payments. By 2003, these companies had slashed these payments to only 2.3 percent of their U.S. profits. That means that two-thirds of their profits escaped state taxes entirely. A shocking 71 of the 252 companies managed to pay no state income tax at all in at least one year from 2001 through 2003 -- despite telling their shareholders that they made $86 billion in pretax U.S. profits in those no-tax years. Some companies -- such as Toys “R” Us, Boeing, AT&T,...

New Year's Resolutions

Over the next few years, we're going to face monumental tax and budget decisions. President Bush wants to privatize part of Social Security, make the tax code far less progressive, borrow many more trillions of dollars, and probably slash domestic programs. It's crucial that people understand what's at stake as these issues unfold -- and that means reporters need to do better than they have in the past. So here are my New Year's resolutions for journalists who cover fiscal issues -- and what readers should demand of them. 1. Explain who wins and who loses. This ought to be a natural for journalists. It's what makes tax and budget stories interesting rather than boring. It's what gets stories on the front page and sells newspapers. For many years, Congress and the Treasury released reliable tables showing the effects of proposed tax changes by income group -- to the chagrin of corporate lobbyists, right-wing think-tankers and other purveyors of bad policies. But since the Republicans...

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