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Carbon Taxes: Worrisome in Theory, Bad in Reality

I don’t have strong views on global warming. Or climate change, or whatever it’s being called today. But I’ve generally been skeptical about government action for the simple reason that the people making the most noise are statists who would use any excuse to increase the size and power of government. To be blunt, I […]

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Greece and the Folly of Trying to Solve an Overspending Problem with Tax Increases

I’ve put forth lots of arguments against tax increases, mostly focusing on why higher tax rates will depress growth and encourage more government spending. Today, let’s look at a practical, real-world example. I wrote a column for The Hill looking at why Greece is a fiscal and economic train wreck. I have lots of interesting […]

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Exposing the Cronyist Argument for Carbon Taxes

In one of my periodic attempts to create themes for these columns, I developed a “fiscal fights with friends” category. Part I was a response to Riehan Salam’s well-meaning critique of the flat tax. Part II was a response to a good-but-timid fiscal plan from folks at AEI. Part III was a response to Jerry […]

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What Can We Learn When the Pro-Tax Hike Crowd Says “Oops”?

I don’t like tax increases, but I like having additional evidence that higher tax rates change behavior. So when my leftist friends “win” by imposing tax hikes, I try to make lemonade out of lemons by pointing out “supply-side” effects. Such as the big drop in soda purchases after a tax on sugary drinks was […]

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Decision Time in the South Pacific: Income Tax or Mitchell’s Golden Rule?

Can you identify the nation with the world’s 7th-friendliest tax system according to the Index of Economic Freedom? Don’t know the answer? Well, here’s a hint. If you don’t count Middle Eastern nations that finance their governments with oil money, this is the nation that is in second place, behind only the Bahamas. Still don’t […]

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The “Progressive” Threat to Baltic Exceptionalism

I’m a big fan of the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. These three countries emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Empire and they have taken advantage of their independence to become successful market-driven economies. One key to their relative success is tax policy. All three nations have flat taxes. Estonia’s system is […]

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Evidence from Sweden Showing that Taxable Income Is the Key Variable in the Laffer Curve, not Tax Revenue

I know exactly how Ronald Reagan must have felt back in 1980 when he famously said “There you go again” to Jimmy Carter during their debate. That’s because I endlessly have to deal with critics who try to undercut the Laffer Curve by claiming that it’s based on the notion that all tax cuts “pay […]

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The Five Worst Ballot Initiatives of 2016

In just 10 days, voters will go to the polls and deal with the rather distasteful choice of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. In some states, they also will have an opportunity to vote for or against various ballot initiatives and referendums. Here are the five proposals that would do the most damage in my […]

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Notwithstanding the New Left-Wing Rhetorical Strategy, Higher Taxes and Bigger Government Is Not a Recipe for Growth and Development

I must be perversely masochistic because I have the strange habit of reading reports issued by international bureaucracies such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, United Nations, and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. But one tiny silver lining to this dark cloud is that it’s given me an opportunity to notice how these […]

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Hillary’s Statist Agenda

I’ve been accused of making supposedly inconsistent arguments against Hillary Clinton. Make up your mind, these critics say. Is she corrupt or is she a doctrinaire leftist? I always respond with the simple observation that she’s both. Not that this should come as a surprise. Proponents of bigger government have long track records of expanding […]

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Hillary Clinton, Willie Sutton, and Class-Warfare Tax Policy

If I had to summarize my views on fiscal policy in just two sentences, here’s what I would say. Government spending undermines growth by diverting labor and capital from more productive uses to less productive uses. Tax rates on productive economic behaviors such as work, saving, investment, and entrepreneurship should be as low as possible. […]

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A Cartoon that Tells You Everything You Need to Know about International Bureaucracies

Okay, I’ll admit the title of this post is an exaggeration. There are lots of things you should know – most bad, though some good – about international bureaucracies. That being said, regular readers know that I get very frustrated with the statist policy agendas of both the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for […]

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FDR: Worse than Barack Obama, Maybe even Worse than Woodrow Wilson

Who is the worst President in U.S. history? No, regardless of polling data, the answer is not Barack Obama. Or even Jimmy Carter. Those guys are amateurs. At the bottom of the list is probably Woodrow Wilson, who gave us both the income tax and the Federal Reserve. And he was a disgusting racist as […]

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Rand Paul’s Heroic and Vital Fight against Global Scheme to Destroy Financial Privacy

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) arguably is the worst feature of the internal revenue code. It’s an odious example of fiscal imperialism that is based on a very bad policy agenda. But there is something even worse, a Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters that has existed for decades but […]

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Lesson from Cyprus: Spending Restraint Is the Pro-Growth Way to Solve a Fiscal Crisis

Much of my work on fiscal policy is focused on educating audiences about the long-run benefits of small government and modest taxation. But what about the short-run issue of how to deal with a fiscal crisis? I have periodically weighed in on this topic, citing research from places like the European Central Bank and International […]

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The Motto of Sanders Voters: “Socialism is fun so long as someone else is paying for it”

My favorite Margaret Thatcher moment might be when she pointed out there’s no such thing as public money, only taxpayer money. Or perhaps when she exposed leftists for being so fixated on class warfare that they would be willing to hurt the poor if they could hurt the rich even more. That being said, I […]

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Can Greece Tax its Way to Prosperity?

In my presentations about how to deal with budgetary deterioration and fiscal crisis, I often share with audiences a list of nations that have achieved very positive results with spending restraint. The middle column shows how these countries limited the growth of government spending for multi-year periods. The next column of numbers reveals how multi-year […]

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Economic Lesson from Europe for Hillary: Higher Tax Rates Are a Recipe for More Red Ink

We can learn a lot of economic lessons from Europe. Never adopt a VAT unless you want much bigger government. Bigger government means lower living standards. Don’t believe Bernie Sanders about the Nordic nations. Today, we’re going to focus on another lesson, which is that higher taxes lead to more red ink. And let’s hope […]

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Three Simple Reasons Why Hillary and Bernie’s Real Plan Is to Soak the Middle Class

If you follow the contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, most of the tax discussion is about who has the best plan to squeeze the rich with ever-higher tax rates. For those motivated by spite and envy, Bernie Sanders “wins” that debate since he wants bigger increases in the tax rates on investors, entrepreneurs, […]

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A Learning Moment about Government Greed for Yale’s Cloistered Academics

Even though it’s theoretically possible to design a desirable budget deal that includes a tax increase, I’m a big advocate of the no-tax-hike pledge for the simple reason that – in the real world – support for genuine spending restraint and real entitlement reform evaporates once politicians think higher revenues are an option. Heck, bumping […]

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