Neil H. Buchanan

Neil H. Buchanan is an economist and legal scholar and a Professor of Law at The George Washington University. He teaches tax law and tax policy, and he has taught contract law, law and economics, and numerous economics courses. His research addresses the long-term tax and spending patterns of the federal government, focusing on budget deficits, the national debt, health care costs, and Social Security. He also is engaged in a long-term research project that asks how current policy choices should be shaped by concerns for the interests of future generations.

Professor Buchanan has held permanent or visiting positions at Rutgers-Newark School of Law, NYU School of Law, and Cornell Law School. Prior to attending law school, Professor Buchanan was an economics professor, specializing in macroeconomics, the history of economic thought, and economic methodology. He has held full-time faculty positions in economics at the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Barnard College, Goucher College, and Wellesley College.

Professor Buchanan has published articles in the Columbia Law Review, the George Washington Law Review, NYU’s Tax Law Review, Cornell Law Review, Virginia Tax Review, and the Cornell Journal of Law & Public Policy, as well as other law reviews and refereed social science periodicals. He has also testified before Congress about issues related to tax reform. He publishes twice weekly on the legal blog “Dorf on Law,” and he is a featured columnist on Newsweek's Opinion page.

Columns by Neil H. Buchanan

Does a President Actually Need to Know Anything?


George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan considers the importance of a president himself (or herself) actually having deep knowledge of issues. Buchanan draws upon the presidencies of Reagan, both Bushes, Clinton, Obama, and others, in concluding that the president’s advisors are crucial in determining the tone of a president’s impact.

Who Is Looking for the Easy Way Out Regarding the Debt Ceiling?


George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan describes the easiest solution to the debt ceiling crisis: for House Republicans to repeal or increase the debt ceiling rather than using it for opportunistic purposes. Buchanan then goes on to explain what the president should do to avoid financial crisis even if House Republicans do not provide this solution.

House Republicans’ Deep Cynicism: Pay the Rich and Play Politics With Everyone Else


George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan describes two cynical tactics by House Republicans to win the political debate over the debt ceiling: (1) redefining what it means to default, and (2) singling out the rich and Social Security recipients to receive their payments in full in the event of government default.

An Avoidable Human Rights Disaster in the Dominican Republic


George Washington law professor and economist Neil Buchanan discusses the ongoing human rights disaster in the Dominican Republic stemming from that country’s treatment of Haitians. Buchanan argues that the United States should withdraw financial support for the Dominican Republic’s security forces in order not to provide support for human rights violations.

The Unending Task of Debunking Social Security Fear-Mongering


George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan debunks some of the Social Security myths spread by many conservative politicians. Specifically, Buchanan makes the following arguments: (1) Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme, (2) Demographics will not overwhelm social security, (3) the Social Security trust fund is more than simply “worthless paper” and we are not better off investing it on our own, and (4) Social Security will not go broke in the coming decades.

Blaming the Victims in Greece: Part Two of a Two-Part Series of Columns


In this second of a two-part series of columns, George Washington law professor and economist Neil Buchanan explains how the German-led policy regime is likely to hurt not just Greece’s people but also people elsewhere in the world. Buchanan also describes how the arguments from German policymakers amounts to blaming the victims of the very policies they imposed upon the Greeks.

What Would an Honest Effort to Reform the IRS Look Like?


George Washington law professor and economist Neil Buchanan continues his discussion of the Republican assault on the Internal Revenue Service. Buchanan describes two aspects of a report recently published by the Republican staff of the House Ways & Means Committee that show Republicans are punishing IRS employees who have nothing to do with the supposed problems at the agency. Buchanan then goes on to describe what an honest attempt to reform the IRS would look like.

House Republicans Blame Their Own Failures on the IRS


George Washington law professor and economist Neil Buchanan evaluates a recent report issued by the majority staff on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. Buchanan argues that the report illustrates Republicans’ attempts to claim not only that the IRS’s mistakes are entirely unconnected to its shrinking budget, but also that the IRS is consciously trying to make matters worse.