Archive for the ‘Campaign ’08’ Category

The Wall St. Journal Editorial Page: Done In by the Facts Again

What would I do without The Wall Street Journal editorial page? I come to work on a slow summer’s day, not sure what I’m going to blog about, when I find this in the morning Journal:
“A piece in The New York Times over the weekend declared in a headline that ‘the Rich Can’t Pay for Everything, Analysts Say.’ And it quoted Leonard Burman, a veteran of the Clinton Treasury who now runs the Brookings Tax Policy Center, as saying that ‘This idea that everything new that government provides ought to be paid for by the top 5%, that’s a basically unstable way of governing.’ They’re right, but where were they during the campaign?”

Campaign 2008: Taking Stock

After two years, endless charges and countercharges, the 2008 campaign is down to its final day. It seems like a good time to take stock of what I liked about this race and what I did not.
I liked fact checking. Never before in a political campaign have so many done so much to call out candidates who fudge, exaggerate, manipulate data, and outright lie. I don’t know that all of this fact checking slowed the growth in irresponsible rhetoric, but it made us far more aware of each bit of blarney. I like that TPC did its part on taxes and health, and props to others out there doing similar work.

Calculate Emptor

Have you seen the new tax calculators produced by the Obama and McCain campaigns?
The idea is simple enough—make tax real for ordinary voters. Instead of talking about trillions of dollars or 95 percent of working families, describe what an Obama or McCain presidency would mean for real taxpayers.

A New Stimulus Plan: Keep the Campaign Going

Let's face it, in our slumping economy, there is only one growth industry left: Political campaigns. Well, maybe two, if you count bankruptcy lawyers, but we'll worry about them another time.
Think of it, while consumption on everything from autos to sofas has slowed to a trickle, campaign spending is booming. Candidates this year have raised—and are likely to spend—in excess of $5 billion. Barack Obama alone may spend something approaching $1 billion.

Does Divided Government Guarantee Fiscal Responsibility?

The ordinarily very astute EconomistMom blithely asserted that there is “a lot of historical evidence suggesting that one-party government tends toward fiscal irresponsibility.” Maybe not. Some time ago, I asked Urban Institute RA, Sonya Hoo, to review the evidence from states, over time, and across countries. She found the evidence of such an effect to be quite ambiguous.

Senator McCain’s Universal Health Insurance Proposal?

When TPC analyzed Senator McCain’s proposal to replace the income tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance with flat refundable tax credits of $2,500 for single coverage and $5,000 for family coverage, we found only modest net effects on coverage. Our model predicted that more than 21 million people would gain insurance coverage in the individual nongroup market by 2013 while 16 million would lose employer-based coverage. Despite a $1.3 trillion price tag over the next decade, the proposal would yield only modest and temporary gains.

Share the wealth

A few more thoughts on “Barack the wealth spreader,” as Sarah Palin now describes the Democratic nominee. I'm inspired in part by commenter D.F., who wrote this morning, “Tax rebates don't work. We need a flat tax.”
First off, John McCain is right when he says Obama's tax plan is redistributionist, if by that he means his rival would give his biggest tax cuts to the lowest earners. TPC calculates that Obama would cut the average tax rate for the lowest 20 percent of earners by more than 5 percent while he'd raise the rate by a roughly equal amount for the top 1 percent.

Refundable Tax Credits=Socialism?

John McCain says Barack Obama’s enthusiasm for refundable tax credits amounts to socialism. Wow.
This is interesting for so many reasons. To start, the mother of all refundable credits is the Earned Income Credit, which is the largest poverty program in the U.S. and distributes $42 billion to more than 20 million low-income families. It was enacted during the Presidency of well-known leftist Gerald Ford, and has been expanded repeatedly ever since, most recently by President Bush in 2001.

Joe the Plumber, Small Business, and a Good Question

A commenter has asked an interesting question about the relationship between small business income and the number of workers in these firms. The FactCheck.org item Len Burman and Eric Toder cited in their blog post this morning reports that 20 million small businesses—many sidelines businesses or hobbies—;have no employees at all besides the proprietor. But it would be good to learn more about the rest. We’d like to hear from any of you who have other data or thoughts about this question.

Joe the Plumber, Obama’s Tax Proposals, and Small Businesses

Poor Joe the Plumber has become a political metaphor: something no one ever wants to be. As we all know by now, based on his actual (rather than aspirational) income of $40,000, Joe would get a slightly bigger tax cut under President Obama than President McCain.
But in one sense, even though the real Joe doesn’t own a business, most small business owners, like Joe, also have very modest incomes. Based on a sample of individual income tax returns, TPC finds that among tax units that receive most of their income from their own business, a partnership or a farm (reported on schedules C, E, or F), more than half have income below $30,000 and 80 percent make less than $100,000. (Table T07-0206)