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Let's Think Big: The Tax Reform We Need

  • Here's how we could raise more money from those who have the most and invest it social insurance, public investments, and safety nets that would make the vast majority of Americans richer.
  • Related: Series | The Facts on Tax Reform, Parts 1-3 Democracy Editor's Note: In the wake of the Republicans’ passage of their tax plan in both houses of Congress, we decided to ask a number of progressive policy experts and thinkers a simple question: When the day comes that the Democrats have control of the White House and Congress, what kind of major tax reform should they pass and why?

We started this project in early December and will post a series of such pieces in the coming weeks. Click here to read the rest of the essays from our series on “The Tax Reform of Our Dreams.” Today, Thea Lee, the incoming president of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), and Hunter Blair, EPI’s budget analyst, weigh in.

Thea Lee and Hunter Blair, Democracy / Portside 

December 15, 2017 | Progressive tax reform needs to raise enough revenue to honor our current commitments to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other social insurance programs, as well as to finance expanded public investments and income supports that ensure opportunityfor all. Rising inequality and the threat of “secular stagnation” make a solid foundation for the case that this revenue should be raised progressively, as taxing wealthy households with large savings does not drag heavily on growth of aggregate demand. Net tax cuts for high-income households and corporations won’t help our demand problem.

A number of specific progressive measures are available that can raise revenue, many of them included in recent years’ editions of the budget proposalsforwarded by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), with some technical assistance from the Economic Policy Institute. They can largely be grouped into four (often overlapping) buckets: broadening the tax base, enacting more and higher top marginal rates, taxing capital and wealth, and taxing economic “bads.”

Thea Lee is the incoming president of the Economic Policy InstituteHunter Blair is the Economic Policy Institute’s budget analyst.

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