Friday, July 23, 2010

Tax Increases & The Economy

Ever wonder about the idea that tax increases can be bad for the economy? Well the TAXPROF BLOG points out that apparently the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers has just published research which "indicates that tax increases are highly contractionary":
Christina D. Romer (Chair, Council of Economic Advisers) & David H. Romer (UC-Berkeley, Department of Economics) have published The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes: Estimates Based on a New Measure of Fiscal Shocks, 100 Am. Econ. Rev. 763 (2010). Here is the abstract:

This paper investigates the impact of tax changes on economic activity. We use the narrative record, such as presidential speeches and Congressional reports, to identify the size, timing, and principal motivation for all major postwar tax policy actions. This analysis allows us to separate legislated changes into those taken for reasons related to prospective economic conditions and those taken for more exogenous reasons. The behavior of output following these more exogenous changes indicates that tax increases are highly contractionary. The effects are strongly significant, highly robust, and much larger than those obtained using broader measures of tax changes.
Since the lead author is an adviser to the President, I'm wondering why the President, and members of Congress as well, are interested, especially in a period of recession and high unemployment, in letting tax cuts during the Bush Presidency expire. Hmmm. . . .tax increases "are highly contactionary." Maybe these elected representatives think the Romers aren't very good economic researchers? Maybe these elected representatives think there is good reason to believe things will be different this time around? Maybe these elected representatives have other goals than seeing the economy pull out of this recession?

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