Analysis and Commentary on Tax and Economics

Yes, the Political and Economic Issue of Our Time Really Is Inequality

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan argues that economic inequality is the political and economic issue of our time, and now is the perfect opportunity for Democrats to push toward a solution. Buchanan decries the claim that the correct path is to triangulate between the policies of the left and the right and explains why now, more than ever, progressive policies are the best response.

Who Pays for Sex Abuse?

Marci A. Hamilton, a professor and resident senior fellow in the Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania, describes the enormous costs associated with child sex abuse that fall on the victims’ families, government welfare programs, and society. Hamilton points out that there is no comprehensive metric that considers all of the costs, but the ones that have been measured are staggering.

An Accidental Argument for Progressive Taxation from One of the Marie Antoinettes of the Trump Administration

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan comments on the response of Louise Linton, wife of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, to criticism regarding her bragging about wearing expensive clothes in a government jet. Buchanan points out that Linton’s path to fortune is based not on her hard work but largely on circumstances beyond her control, and he argues that simply being a billionaire does not necessarily mean one has positively contributed to society to get there.

There Actually Are Some Good Tax Reform Ideas Out There

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan continues his discussion of tax reform, suggesting that a starting place for meaningful reform would be to tax wealth more effectively, tax unrealized gains, and eliminate the preferential tax rates for investment income. Buchanan points out that even modest changes in these areas would significantly address the problem of growing economic inequality in our country.

Distractions and Non-Issues in the Tax Reform Debate

In this first of a series of columns on tax reform, George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan describes a few items that should not be seriously considered in attempting to improve the status quo. Buchanan argues that the notion of a complete overhaul of the tax code, and the proposal that the tax code should be “simpler,” ignore important considerations and distract from real issues.

Doing Nothing About Taxes Is Better Than What Republicans Want to Do

Neil H. Buchanan, a George Washington law professor and economist, argues that the tax code status quo (imperfect as it is) is better than the changes Republicans are proposing to make. Buchanan explains the difference between the marginal tax rate and the effective tax rate and how Republicans focus only on marginal tax rates in order to mislead the public.

You Know You’re Winning When Your Opponents Are Forced to Rely on Supply-Side Fantasies

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan once again explains why supply-side economics does not work to stimulate the economy. Buchanan points out the logical mistake of inferring causation from correlation and points to the consensus among economists across the political spectrum that supply-side economics has no basis in fact or theory.

The Church of the Perpetual Supply-Side Miracle

In anticipation of President Trump and congressional Republicans trying to pass severely regressive tax cuts for the rich, George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan preemptively critiques conservatives’ claims that supply-side economics works. Buchanan points out that the great weight of evidence demonstrates that it does not, and only blind belief could lead one to think otherwise.

Sympathy for the Comfortable: The New Conservative Theory of Compassion

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explains in plain English what Mick Mulvaney meant when he attempted to justify President Trump’s budget proposal that would cut programs that help America’s most vulnerable, such as Meals on Wheels and subsidized school lunches for poor children. As Buchanan explains, Mulvaney’s explanation is based on a false notion that better-off people gain as much utility from each dollar as worse-off people receive from the same amount.

Another Excuse for Possible Constitutional Overreach by Trump

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explores how President-elect Donald Trump could seize upon, or even create, a debt ceiling crisis as a way to enhance his executive powers. Buchanan explains that Trump could put himself into a “trilemma” on purpose, giving himself no choice but to pick and choose which of the government’s debts he would pay and which he would not.

Can and Should States Mandate Tax Return Disclosure as a Condition for Presidential Candidates to Appear on the Ballot?

Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar considers whether states have the authority to mandate tax return disclosure in order to appear on the presidential election ballot—and if they do, whether exercising that authority is a good idea. Amar explains why the legal authority for enacting such laws is unclear and argues that they could potentially undermine the democratic process, whereas a national popular vote would strengthen the process.

Republicans Always Lose the Tax Fairness Debate, and Trump Turns It Into a Rout

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explains why, with the information that we currently have, there is no way to determine whether Donald Trump’s tax strategies were legal or illegal. Buchanan argues that regardless of the answer to that question, there are still too many special provisions for people like Trump—particularly with respect to the real estate sector.

What the Last Eight Years of Federal Government Intervention in the National Economy Has Wrought

Chapman University, Fowler School of Law, professor Ronald D. Rotunda evaluates the claims of President Obama and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton about the country’s economic gains over the past eight years and finds that those claims lack support. Rotunda argues that the numbers indicate that the policy of federal government intervention has not worked as well as Clinton and Obama claim.

Social Security’s Political Future in a Clinton Administration

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explains why young Americans and black Americans should not believe Trump’s (and Republicans’) claims that they have nothing to lose by dismantling Social Security and Medicare. Buchanan describes the so-called reduced benefits scenario that could happen in the unlikely event that the trust balance reaches zero and contrasts that with the enhanced benefits that could result from a Clinton presidency.

Even After Trump Loses, Constitutional Democracy in the United States Will Still Be in Peril

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explains why, whether Donald Trump wins or loses the presidency, constitutional democracy in the United States is seriously threatened. Buchanan argues that Trump’s stated plans for the country would effectively destroy our constitutional democracy, but even a Republican-caused gridlocked Congress under a President Hillary Clinton could cause a debt crisis and economic collapse.

Meet our Columnists

Vikram David Amar
Vikram David Amar

Vikram David Amar is the Dean and Iwan Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Illinois Co... more

Neil H. Buchanan
Neil H. Buchanan

Neil H. Buchanan is an economist and legal scholar and a Professor of Law at The George Washington U... more

Sherry F. Colb
Sherry F. Colb

Sherry F. Colb is Professor of Law and Charles Evans Hughes Scholar at Cornell University. Colb tea... more

John Dean
John Dean

John Dean served as Counsel to the President of the United States from July 1970 to April 1973. Befo... more

Michael C. Dorf
Michael C. Dorf

Michael C. Dorf is the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School. He has w... more

Joanna L. Grossman
Joanna L. Grossman

Joanna L. Grossman is the Ellen K. Solender Endowed Chair in Women and Law at SMU Dedman School of L... more

Marci A. Hamilton
Marci A. Hamilton

Marci A. Hamilton is one of the country’s leading church-state scholars and the Fox Professor of Pra... more

David S. Kemp
David S. Kemp

David S. Kemp is an attorney and managing editor at Justia. He received his B.A. in Psychology from... more

Joseph Margulies
Joseph Margulies

Mr. Margulies is a Professor of Law and Government at Cornell University. He was Counsel of Record... more

Anita Ramasastry
Anita Ramasastry

Anita Ramasastry is the UW Law Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of... more

Ronald D. Rotunda
Ronald D. Rotunda

Ronald D. Rotunda is the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, at... more