Neil H. Buchanan

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

The Purest False Equivalence of All: By Attacking Democrats on Substance, NeverTrumpers Destroy the Process

GW law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan argues that pundits on the anti-Trump right erroneously conflate two different categories of objections, substance and process. Buchanan points out that by attacking the substantive policies supported by Democrats and not distinguishing substance from process, Republicans risk weakening the Constitution’s political processes.

Is Trump Even Worse Than Brexit? Need We Ask?

GW law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan responds to a Washington Post guest column by Ian Birrell—a speechwriter for the United Kingdom’s former prime minister David Cameron—in which Birrell argues that Brexit is worse than Trump. Buchanan makes the case that Trump’s negative legacy is likely to be both worse and longer-lasting than Brexit’s.

The Democracy Conundrum: What If Large Numbers of Voters Are Racists? (The Trump/Brexit Tragedies)

GW law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan looks at recent electoral developments in the United Kingdom and the United States (Brexit and Trump’s election) and argues that the justification that Leave/Trump voters “voted their pocketbooks and fears” is no longer supportable. Buchanan points out that democracy does not require that one side excuse the choices of voters who, in the face of overwhelming evidence, voted the wrong way.

Republicans Will Run an Entire Campaign Based on an Incorrectly Defined Word (Socialism) Because They Have Nothing Else

GW law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan argues that while rhetoric and symbolism have always played an important role in politics, today’s Republicans are running an entire campaign on an incorrect definition of “socialism.” Buchanan points out that many people are discovering—to the chagrin of Republicans—that socialism means progressive taxation, increasing workers’ pay, and reducing the costs of higher education, rather than collectivist worker camps, and that it might actually be a good thing.

Can the Supreme Court Shelter Rich People from Taxation?

GW law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explains the benefits of a tax policy that eliminates the “realization requirement” but describes how a hyper-conservative Supreme Court might go to great lengths to strike down such a policy. Buchanan points to an all-but-overturned Supreme Court decision from 1920 and suggests that the conservatives on the Court could ignore the (well deserved) criticism that decision has received in order to strike down progressive tax legislation.

Assessing the Aftermath of President Hillary Clinton’s 2018 Midterm Super-Shellacking

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan revisits his exploration of how vastly different U.S. government and politics might look today if Hillary Clinton had won the presidential election in 2016. In this alternate history, Buchanan points out how Republicans might use extreme tactics to undermine a Democratic president and discusses in what ways the 2018 midterm elections may have had a drastically different outcome.

How Bad Will Things Become? Part Seven: Goodbye, New Deal and Great Society?

GW law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan continues his series of columns considering how much damage the US Supreme Court will inflict after Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement. Drawing upon the nation’s experience with a conservative Court during the Lochner era, Buchanan predicts that one of the most consequential results of Republicans’ theft of a Supreme Court seat could be to seriously undermine one or more of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

The Immediate Gratification Election: Young Voters Can Stop Trump Here and Now

GW law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan describes the immediate consequences that should persuade all voters, but particularly young voters, to vote in this year’s midterm election. Buchanan points out that the short-term consequences of Republican victories this week will mean the likely shutdown the special counsel’s investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign, continued vilification of the FBI and intelligence services, environmental ruin, increasing economic inequality, and more.

Trump Channels Nixon Again: This Time, His Target Is the US Economy

GW Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan describes why President Trump’s recent attacks on the nation’s independent central bank, the Federal Reserve, is dangerous and worrisome. Buchanan explains the reason the Fed is independent of politics and highlights the importance of its continued existence and independence, regardless of who is in the White House.

What Kavanaugh Could Have Said, But Didn’t: “I Honestly Don’t Know What Happened, and I’m Willing to Accept the Senate’s Judgment”

GW Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan writes a letter that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh could have written (but didn’t) in response to allegations that he sexually assaulted and attempted to rape a 15-year-old girl when he was a 17-year-old high school student. Using a fictional letter as a rhetorical device, Buchanan points out that Kavanaugh could have acknowledged that he, like anyone who has ever drunk to excess, does not recall exactly what he did or did not do while drunk, particularly on the night in question, but instead, Kavanaugh flatly denied that the allegations could be true. Buchanan argues that Kavanaugh’s response to the allegations demonstrates that he does not belong on the US Supreme Court.

How Bad Will Things Become? Part Two: The Court’s New Extremist Majority Will Be Truly Radical

In this second part of a series of columns, GW law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan considers how the United States, and indeed the world, would shift substantially to the right with a Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. Buchanan explains not only what might change, but how we can expect that change to come about, as well.

Accountable Capitalism and Progressive Prosperity

GW Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explains why the notion of a completely “free” market is nonsensical and argues that Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposed Accountable Capitalism Act would make capitalism in this country work better. Buchanan points out that there is not a baseline of “no rules” in any society; rather, the government has already simply set certain rules, and those who disproportionately benefit from those rules do not wish them to change.

Why Elizabeth Warren Is Right That Capitalism Should Be Great

GW Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explains why it is a false equivalence to say (as some journalists have said) that while Republicans have embraced increasingly extremist positions, so too have Democrats. Buchanan argues that true capitalism does not mean lack of rules altogether but simply a collection of rules that promote competition and fairness.

Trump’s Unilateral Tax Cut Proposal for the Rich is a Political Gift to Democrats

GW Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan discusses why the recent announcement by the Trump administration that it is considering a unilateral tax cut for the rich would be a political gift to Democrats. Buchanan describes what the tax cut would do and explains that no one thinks that such legislation could pass, which is why Trump’s people are talking about this executive workaround.

The Supreme Court and Conservatives’ Right Not to Be Associated in Any Way With Disagreeable Things

GW Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan argues that the pro-business, anti-union expressed during oral argument and in the majority opinion in Janus v. AFSCME, written by Justice Samuel Alito and joined by the other conservative justices including Justice Anthony Kennedy, epitomizes both Kennedy’s right-wing fundamentalism and the direction in which the Court would have continued to move even if he had chosen not to retire. Buchanan points out that the trend among the conservative justices is to insulate conservatives—especially Christian Republicans—from having to be in any way connected to anything with which they disagree, such as collective bargaining, sexual liberation, or provision of contraception.

Kennedy’s Sadly and Unnecessarily Tainted Legacy

GW law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan comments on Justice Anthony Kennedy’s announcement that he is retiring from the Supreme Court and the legacy he leaves. Buchanan laments that Justice Kennedy’s last term on the bench can only be described as tragedy, as he joined the conservative 5–4 majority on critical cases that Buchanan predicts will have a lasting harmful effect on individuals across the country and the world.

The Supreme Court Is Still Incoherent About Taxes and Finance, But the Conservatives Seem to Know What They Want

GW law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan comments on two of last week’s decisions from the US Supreme Court that at least nominally involved tax law issues. Buchanan explains why the decisions suggest that the justices remain confused about taxes and financial issues more generally and suggests that the lower-profile case from last week may end up having the most important and negative effects going forward.