Analysis and Commentary on Tax and Economics
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.

I Might Actually Agree With Trump About Something, Someday, Maybe

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explains how and why House Republicans might put President-elect Donald Trump in a debt ceiling crisis, just as they did to President Obama. Buchanan points out that Trump might rightfully choose to ignore the debt ceiling law, which Buchanan argues is unconstitutional anyway.

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.

An Analysis of Donald Trump’s Economic Proposa…—Wait, He Said What?

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan evaluates Donald Trump’s economic proposal, finding it at best a regurgitation of Republican economic orthodoxy. Buchanan explains why Trump’s proposal is essentially trickle-down economics, which would simply worsen economic inequality and do nothing to improve the economy.

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.

Trump Finds a Way to Be Just a Bit More Unhinged than the Republican Establishment Is About the Federal Debt

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explains how Donald Trump’s recent comments about the federal debt reveal that he is even more irresponsible—though only slightly—than the Republican establishment on this issue. Buchanan describes the problems with repudiating the debt as Trump suggests the government do.

Why Can’t We Buy Cars the Way We Buy Computers?

Chapman University Law professor Ronald Rotunda comments on the law in a majority of states requiring car manufacturers to sell through dealers. Rotunda argues that Tesla Motors’ direct-to-consumer model is an excellent opportunity for the state and federal courts to invalidate laws such as these that exist only to favor entrenched economic interests.

Genuine Tax Simplification—Not Grandstanding—From Senator Warren and Friends

Neil H. Buchanan, a law professor and economist at George Washington University, praises a bill proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren that would simplify the filing of taxes. Buchanan explains why filing should be much simpler than it is and also why efforts to simplify the process have, to date, failed.

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... more

Neil H. Buchanan
Neil H. Buchanan

Neil H. Buchanan, an economist and legal scholar, holds the James J. Freeland Eminent Scholar... more

Sherry F. Colb
Sherry F. Colb

Sherry F. Colb is the C.S. Wong Professor of Law at Cornell University. Colb teaches courses in... more

John Dean
John Dean

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

Michael C. Dorf
Michael C. Dorf

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

Samuel Estreicher
Samuel Estreicher

Samuel Estreicher is the Dwight D. Opperman Professor, Director, Center for Labor and Employment... more

Leslie C. Griffin
Leslie C. Griffin

Dr. Leslie C. Griffin is the William S. Boyd Professor of Law at the University of Nevada, Las... 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... more

Marci A. Hamilton
Marci A. Hamilton

MARCI A. HAMILTON is the Fels Institute of Government Professor of Practice, and Fox Family... more

Joseph Margulies
Joseph Margulies

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

Austin Sarat
Austin Sarat

Austin Sarat is Associate Provost, Associate Dean of the Faculty and William Nelson Cromwell... more

Lesley Wexler
Lesley Wexler

Lesley Wexler is a Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Immediately... more