Analysis and Commentary on Tax and Economics

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.

Economic Libertarian Constitutionalism Never Really Died

Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf argues that modern constitutionalism supports economic libertarianism, due not only to judicial decisions but also the very structure of the Constitution. Dorf responds in part to a recent book review by Professor Suzanna Sherry, published in the March issue of the Harvard Law Review, that is highly critical of Professor Richard Epstein’s book The Classical Liberal Constitution.

Disdainful Economists, Hubristic Jurists, and Fanatical Republicans: A Recipe for Single-Payer Health Care?

George Washington University law professor and economist Neil Buchanan explains why recent events detracting from the Affordable Care Act might lead to serious consideration of a single-payer health care system. Buchanan includes in his discussion the Supreme Court’s recent decision in NFIB v. Sebelius, a careless statement by economist Jonathan Gruber, and the upcoming challenge of it before the Supreme Court, King v. Burwell.

Airplane Seatbacks, the Coase Theorem, and Simplistic Solutions to Difficult Questions

George Washington University law professor and economist Neil Buchanan comments on the minor nationwide debate over reclining one’s seat on an airplane. Buchanan argues that one reporter’s claim that the debate is “an excellent case study for the Coase Theorem” manifests a fundamental (yet common) misunderstanding of that theorem.

Message to Young People: Social Security Will Be There For You, Unless You Let Wall Street Take It Away From You

George Washington University law professor and economist Neil Buchanan argues against the notion that Social Security will “go broke” before today’s workers retire. Buchanan discusses the origins of the idea—including disinformation campaigns by opponents of Social Security—and explains why the is unfounded, as long as people continue to support the program politically.

Why Laffer Lingers: Tax Cut Snake Oil Is Still for Sale

George Washington law professor and economist Neil Buchanan explains why large numbers of people continue to believe erroneously that tax cuts result in greater tax revenues. Buchanan argues that the only real-life examples that seem to support the notion are cherry-picked and anecdotal evidence. He concludes that the claim that tax cuts are self-financing is only barely plausible as a matter of logic, and it has been disproven over and over again by both conservative and liberal economists alike.

Increasing Revenue by Lowering Taxes

Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda argues that the best way to increase revenue is to lower taxes. Rotunda explains that the current taxation structure incentivizes the wealthy to find loopholes and avoid paying taxes altogether, whereas those same corporations and individuals would be more likely to pay under lower tax rates. Rotunda also discusses the trend of corporations moving their headquarters and business centers from states with higher taxes, such as California, to states with lower taxes, and the negative impact of such moves on the origin state.

The Real Problems of Poverty and Inequality Exist Today, Not Decades or Generations From Now: Part Two of a Two-Part Series on Income Mobility and Inequality

In this second of a two-part series of columns on income mobility, George Washington law professor and economist Neil Buchanan explains why we should focus on reducing economic inequality today. Buchanan warns that our focus should not be on the increased rate at which economic inequality is growing, but on its very existence. He argues that even if inequality were gradually abating on its own, as some have postulated, inactively waiting for it to do so would continue to allow millions of people to suffer the pain of poverty until that distant and hypothetical time arrives.

Poor, Rich, and Very Little Movement in Between: Part One of a Two-Part Series on Income Mobility and Inequality

George Washington University law professor and economist Neil Buchanan critiques the argument that income mobility adequately addresses the issue of economic inequality. Buchanan contends that supporters of the mobility argument rely on a theory of mobility that disregards the reality of the permanent effects that poverty has on people. In a companion column next week, Buchanan will discuss where the arguments that Professor Piketty offered in his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century fit into the arguments over inequality, mobility, and redistribution.

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 the C.S. Wong Professor of Law at Cornell University. Colb teaches courses in con... 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 the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program Professor of Practice, and Fox Family Pavi... 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

Lesley Wexler
Lesley Wexler

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