Thursday, December 22, 2011

The 10 worst economic ideas of 2011

Jeff Madrick at Roosevelt Institute:

Let’s hope the New Year brings some new ideas, because this year’s couldn’t have been much worse — or more widespread.
I was at an Occupy Wall Street demonstration this weekend and many clergy addressed the group. One nun told the crowd it was Christmas season and that it was time for something new to be born in America.

Top ten from the dumb and dumber...
It was a nice thought, and I hope that the “something new” is good sense, because it has been a year in which some of the worst economic ideas ever have gained support and are being applied around the world. So here’s my list of the 10 worst economic ideas of 2011:

1. Taxes should be more regressive.

At the top of the list for sheer scandalous insensitivity are Herman Cain’s and New Gingrich’s tax plans for America. Cain and Gingrich are both flat tax advocates. Cain proposes “9-9-9″ — a 9 percent sales tax, 9 percent income tax, and 9 percent corporate tax. He would also eliminate most deductions. Would this raise more or less money? The romantic conservatives claim the lower income tax rate would mean more growth. Never mind that the evidence to support that claim has been found profoundly lacking time and again.

The Payroll Tax Cut Extension - GOP holds recovery hostage

Be careful where you point your gun...
Economist Mark Thoma on what is at stake with the payroll tax and unemployment insurance extensions, which the GOP is determined either to halt or to hold hostage by linking to unrelated legislation that the President has vowed to veto: 
Congress has not been able to agree on extending the payroll tax cut, and as it stands, payroll taxes will increase in January. What impact will this gridlock have on the economy? What about the expiration of unemployment benefits, another effect of the failure to produce legislation on the payroll tax cut?

The payroll tax cut amounts to around $1,000 per year for the typical household, which adds up to a around $120 billion per year in additional purchasing power for the total workforce. If the payroll tax cut is not extended when Congress reconvenes, losing that much purchasing power would make an already slow recovery even slower...