Robert McIntyre

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

Recent Articles

The Taxonomist

This August, while everyone in Washington was away, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) quietly published its latest update on our nation's fiscal situation. It's one of the CBO's more enlightening -- and frightening -- efforts. If you read the report carefully, you'll discover that however badly you might have thought President Bush was managing the government, things are actually much worse. The CBO's report gets off to a slow start -- as usual, leading off with its silly, albeit much-cited, "baseline" budget projections. Assume, says the CBO, that government spending plummets as a share of the economy, that tax cuts ostensibly "sunsetted" really go away, that the alternative minimum tax engulfs 30 million families and that the earth is flat. Then the budget picture, while very ugly in the short run, will slowly improve down the road. Indeed, under this relatively rosy scenario, a decade from now the annual deficit in the regular budget could be a mere $105 billion. The...

The Taxonomist

I got a call from MCI the other night. It came just as I was finishing up a paper attacking a multibillion-dollar tax loophole that MCI is trying to create for itself. Having already been surprised at being contacted by AT&T and Verizon on the issue that same day, I wondered how MCI had found out, too. But my paranoia was unjustified. MCI's call was merely an attempt to persuade me to change my long-distance service. As has been well reported, MCI, aka WorldCom, was driven into bankruptcy due to the largest accounting fraud in American history, which has cost the company's shareholders and creditors hundreds of billions of dollars. Now MCI is trying to milk the public even further, by perverting the purpose of a federal tax law that lets companies coming out of bankruptcy postpone certain taxes. MCI wants to turn that postponement into a permanent tax exemption. I was tipped off to MCI's attempted tax rip-off a few months ago by my friends at the Communications Workers of America...

The Taxonomist

So Congress passed the Third Annual Awful Bush Tax Cut. It was a close vote in the Senate, with Vice President Dick Cheney breaking a 50-to-50 tie. But both sides agree on one thing: The cost of the bill over the next decade will be far more than its advertised $350 billion price. A trillion dollars or so is more plausible. To squeeze a trillion dollars into this year's $350 billion target, Republican leaders specified an array of sunset dates for most of the tax cuts. Items mainly affecting middle-income taxpayers, such as the increase in the child credit to $1,000 and lower tax brackets for married couples, will end after two years. A $60 billion cut in corporate taxes also expires after two years -- to be followed by big corporate tax increases! Likewise, measures to keep tens of millions of taxpayers from falling under the dreaded "alternative minimum tax" have a two-year time limit. More generous treatment goes to the GOP's favorite items. The cuts in the top tax rates previously...

The Taxonomist:

As I write this, the House has just passed its version of the Third Annual Bush Tax Cut and the Senate is about to debate its bill. Both measures are irresponsible, gimmick-ridden, economically wrongheaded and heavily tilted toward the rich. President Bush would accept no less. You may know some of this from the newspapers. But you've probably never heard about the enormous corporate tax cut in the House bill. Over the next three years, House Republicans want to slash business taxes by $167 billion. More than half of that is slated for 2005, when the goal is to reduce corporate tax payments by a third. That's an enormous tax cut. But on the rare occasions when the press reports on the House's planned corporate giveaways, it dismisses them as a mere $39 billion in corporate tax cuts over 11 years. How do House GOP leaders style a business tax cut that costs a staggering $88 billion in the year it takes full effect as a paltry $3.5 billion average annual tax reduction? Simple. They...

Déjà Voodoo Economics

My friend and adversary Bruce Bartlett of the rabidly anti-tax National Center for Policy Analysis was tapped by Philadelphia public radio to defend President Bush's enacted and proposed tax cuts. Bartlett spoke glowingly about the tax cuts' sharp tilt in favor of the wealthy, and admitted that they're being financed entirely by borrowing. But that's no problem, he reassured listeners, because budget deficits don't really matter. Complaints about Bush leaving a crushing debt burden on our children are "not correct," Bartlett argued, because our children can just pass the debt on to their kids, who will pass it on to their kids, etc., etc., etc. "We'll simply pass this on forever," he said. Before you dismiss Bartlett's deficit theories as the irrelevant ravings of an oddball, you should know that he's an influential figure with the Bush administration. In fact, Bartlett's comments echoed those of Bush's budget director, Mitchell Daniels, who opined in early March that he was not...

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