Robert McIntyre

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

Recent Articles

The Taxonomist

George W. Bush's transition team and House Minority Whip Tom DeLay may have had an unacknowledged motive to delay passage of the 2001 budget: An idea going around in December was to put off the budget bill until February so that it could be combined with repeal of the federal estate tax. Because budget reconciliation bills are virtually filibuster-proof in the Senate, that would probably ensure quick passage of the repeal. According to inside sources, a bill to phase out the tax on wealth over a five-year period was drafted in early December by congressional staff at Bush's direction. (During the presidential campaign, Bush proposed to repeal the tax by 2009.) The new Bush plan was kept under wraps so that it could be sprung at the last minute, before opponents had a chance to mount a fight. Those opponents include not only fair-tax advocates like me, but also financially endangered groups such as estate planners, insurance companies, and the states. ...

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

Hatching Tax Cuts for the Rich Why is it that when Republicans in Congress try to address a real problem--whether it be an inadequate minimum wage, the tax code's marriage penalty, or whatever else happens to catch their attention--they so often end up calling for big tax cuts for the rich? The latest example comes from Senator Orrin Hatch, the Republican from Utah, who says he wants to simplify the income tax. Now, "tax simplification" is a perfectly fine idea, and Hatch has the wisdom to focus on several areas that deserve attention, even though they affect only about six million high-bracket taxpayers. For instance, back when George H.W. Bush was president, he and Congress decided that higher tax rates on the welloff were needed to help reduce the budget deficit. But because lawmakers were afraid to raise tax rates directly, they took a roundabout route. First, they disallowed a portion of itemized deductions,...

The Flat Taxers' Flat Distortions

Several leading Republicans now claim that a flat tax can lower most taxpayers' burden, close loopholes, and avoid revenue shortfalls. Wrong on all counts.

H aving attacked the liberal accomplishments of the Great Society and New Deal, congressional Republicans are preparing to eliminate a reform that stretches even further back into history: the progressive income tax. Republicans in both houses of Congress have introduced plans for a flat tax, claiming that its simplicity and fairness will be a boon to all. Majority Leader Dick Armey, presenting his plan, states that "millions of taxpayers are taken off the rolls entirely, and middle Americans receive a tax cut." The first part of that claim is largely true. Since Armey's plan does not tax income from interest, dividends, or capital gains, those taxpayers who live completely off of investment income would be taken off the rolls entirely. The second part of the claim is, by any serious accounting, wrong. Armey's plan has two parts: It replaces the progressive income tax with a flat tax, and it replaces business taxes with a consumption tax. Both elements would dramatically shift the tax...

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