Tracy Gordon

Tracy Gordon is a Senior Fellow with the Tax Policy Center. Gordon researches and writes on state and local government finances, including taxes, budgeting, intergovernmental relations, municipal debt, and pensions. She was previously a senior economist with the White House Council of Economic Advisers, fellow at the Brookings Institution, assistant professor at the Maryland School of Public Policy, and fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. Twitter: @gordontrac

Don’t Count the Feds Out Yet

By :: December 9th, 2014

In a provocative Washington Post column, Brookings Institution scholar Bruce Katz argues that the federal government is becoming irrelevant — especially to cities and regions where most Americans live and most economic activity takes place. While Bruce rightly identifies some areas where the feds are fading, he overstates the phenomenon. The federal government remains the […]

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Bertha and the French Professor: Lessons for Public Private Partnerships

By :: October 21st, 2014

Jean Tirole is an influential, respected, and by all accounts gracious man who won this year’s Nobel Prize in economics. Bertha is a 7,000-ton tunnel boring machine that’s been stuck under Seattle for nine months—but is still tweeting—as state officials and a private contractor battle over who should pay to get her out. What do […]

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It’s Not Easy to Escape the Local Pension Vise

By :: October 6th, 2014

Last week’s federal court ruling in the municipal bankruptcy case of Stockton, CA highlighted the enormous challenge faced by local governments with underfunded public pensions. There are ways out of this vise, but none are easy, and all are fraught with risks. State governments face at least a $1 trillion gap between pensions promised to […]

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A New Look at State and Local Pension Liabilities

By :: August 7th, 2013

What if state and local government deficits doubled over night and nobody noticed? That’s what happened last Wednesday when the Bureau of Economic Analysis released its comprehensive revision of the National Income and Product Accounts. As my TPC colleague Donald Marron noted, the new BEA numbers downsized the federal government relative to GDP.  They assigned […]

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Detroit’s Pension Blues, and America’s

By :: July 31st, 2013

In the week since Detroit became the largest U.S. city to declare bankruptcy, many commentators have speculated about what, if anything, this action means for the rest of the country.  One narrative is that Detroit is sui generis – a city whose fiscal problems were long in the making, aided by broad macroeconomic forces and […]

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No City is an Island: What the Stockton City Bankruptcy Means (and Doesn’t)

By :: April 3rd, 2013

A few years ago, it was fashionable to compare California, Illinois, or whatever U.S. state was struggling financially to the troubled island nation of Greece.  Now, with Stockton, California the largest U.S. municipality to enter bankruptcy, it may be tempting to make another Mediterranean comparison – this time to the troubled island nation of Cyprus. […]

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The Downside of States as Laboratories for Tax Reform

By :: February 5th, 2013

With state finances gradually improving, some Republican governors are turning their attention to fundamental tax reform.  Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has proposed replacing his state’s personal and corporate income taxes with higher sales taxes.  Nebraska’s Dave Heineman and North Carolina’s Pat McCrory would do something similar, broadening the sales tax base and perhaps including some […]

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Tax Reform, Up Close and Personal

By :: August 10th, 2012

On Monday, I attended my first meeting of the District of Columbia Tax Reform Commission.  The independent commission was authorized by the Tax Revision Commission Reestablishment Act of 2011 and is chaired by former DC Mayor Anthony Williams.  It includes ten other members appointed by Mayor Vincent Gray and Council Chairman Kwame Brown. I was […]

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States and the Affordable Care Act: An Offer They (Still) Can’t Refuse

By :: July 2nd, 2012

For months, astute observers called Medicaid the “sleeper issue” of the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act deliberations.  Last Thursday, they were proven correct.  A majority of the Supreme Court struck down a provision of the law giving the Health and Human Services Secretary authority to pull all federal Medicaid funds from states refusing to extend […]

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California’s Budget Crisis: Part XII

By :: May 21st, 2012

Summer is here and that can mean only one thing – the start of movie season.  Well, that and California’s annual budget mess.  Like a tired franchise that keeps coming back, it’s the same story year after year, sometimes gussied up with computer generated effects or a surprise cameo appearance. On Saturday, Governor Jerry Brown […]

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