James Pethokoukis

Tryanny of the status quo: homebuyer tax credit edition

October 21, 2009

A great point made by the Tax Foundation about the National Association of Realtors and its support of the homebuyer tax credit:

Follow the Japanese example on stimulus

October 16, 2009

The new Japanese government is redirecting the country’s stimulus plan (WSJ):

Kudlow: Enjoy the recovery while it lasts

October 15, 2009

The Great One opines thusly:

But storm clouds are gathering. And a big one is the sinking dollar. No one in the Obama administration or at the Fed seems to care about it. In fact, they are probably applauding the lower dollar as a sort of 1970s way of boosting exports and the manufacturing heartland in the Midwest. But the falling dollar is bad for consumers. And it ultimately will cause higher inflation, as signaled by the rising gold price. There also are future tax hikes and the explosion of spending and debt. All of this is why it’s hard for me to be a long-term bull.

Would Obama’s new regulator ban ObamaCare?

October 15, 2009

Would the Baucus healthcare reform plan pass muster with the Consumer Financial Protection Agency? That’s the new regulator the Obama White House wants to create to protect Americans from deceptive or confusing mortgages, loans and credit card agreements that contain hidden fees, costs, rates or other time bombs potentially harmful to one’s financial health.

Good tax policy vs. bad policy

October 14, 2009

Don Marron explains thusly:

Taxes on income, for example, are usually worse for the economy than taxes on consumption. That’s why there’s a rising chorus of economists recommending the introduction of a value-added tax, rather than higher income taxes, if our nation decides it wants to support substantially higher government spending. High tax rates similarly tend to be worse for the economy than low rates. That’s why economists usually favor broad tax bases and low rates, rather than narrow tax bases and high rates. Finally, it’s preferable to levy taxes on bads rather than goods. Where appropriate, taxes on pollution (e.g., emissions of greenhouse gases) should thus be preferred over taxes on working, saving, or investing.

Venture capital firms are down. Hey, let’s raise their taxes

October 14, 2009

First this from Reuters:

In the first three quarters of this year, only 86 U.S. funds raised money, according to data compiled by the Venture Capital Journal and the National Venture Capital Association. It the trend is maintained, by year’s end there will be somewhere between 104 and 118 new funds. By comparison, even in the blackest days of the dot-com bust of 2001, investors averaged 234 funds a year.

VAT Attack! The perfect tax … or maybe perfectly awful

October 14, 2009

Greg Mankiw does a good explaining the value-added tax. But this is ominous:

From a strictly economic standpoint, a VAT is great. It is essentially a flat consumption tax, like the so-called FairTax, but implemented in a way to reduce compliance problems. Because it is collected in stages along the chain of production, rather than all at the retail level, tax evasion is more difficult. … My bottom line: If I could replace our current tax system (including the personal income tax, corporate income tax, payroll tax, and estate tax) with a VAT, I would gladly do it.

Deferral Drama: Why Obama corporate tax reversal hints at a VAT

October 13, 2009

Many ideas that may have momentarily seemed like smart policy earlier this year — when rage at Wall Street and Corporate America hit a fevered pitch — didn’t survive a bit of calm reflection ((and intense business lobbying.). Like that 90 percent tax on executive bonuses. Or nationalizing the banks.

A $150 billion a year financial Tobin tax? Really?

October 12, 2009

The idea of a Tobin tax, a tax on financial transactions, is gaing some mo’ in Congress (via WSJ):

Should America be more like Denmark?

October 8, 2009

Blogger Matthew Yglesias talks up Denmark and high taxes over at ThinkProgress:

The overwhelming fact about Danish public policy is that taxes in Denmark are really high. There’s a substantial VAT and also a substantial income tax. You pay taxes to buy a car, and you pay higher taxes for heavy cars. Gasoline taxes are high (gas costs almost $7.50 a gallon) as are taxes on electricity, which account for more than half the cost of electricity to consumers. In exchange for all this, the Danes have basically achieved all the stuff progressives say they want. The country is rich, clean, and highly egalitarian. The high taxes finance generous public services, and the high levels of expenditure allow the country to do without a lot of extraneous business regulation which helps keep the place economically dynamic. According to surveys, the people are all very happy, which is exactly what you would expect from a very rich, very egalitarian society. And as this trip has emphasized, they do it all while doing much less polluting than Americans do, despite a higher average material standard of living.