语录名言 点击： 2018-08-16
There is still time to correct their mistake, taking an approach adopted in a small way in Ronald Reagan"s 1983 Social Security reform. Congrecould paa law increasing the age of eligibility by, say, two months every year. That increase would continue until the Trustees for Social Security and Medicare (a group that includes the Treasury secretary) declared the programs in long-term fiscal balance.
Those already retired or near retirement would not be affected, but
those of us now middle-aged would have to work longer or save to finance our own early retirement. The beneficiaries of such a reform would be our children, who would not have to inherit European-style tax rates.
Although the fiscal gap could be completely closed with reduced spending, a realistic political compromise will likely include higher revenues as well. Even here, however, rather than consider a
reversal of the Bush tax cuts, the new Treasury secretary should look
for more efficient revenue sources.
Economists have long noted that while most taxes distort incentives and shrink the size of the economic pie, others improve incentives and enlarge it. A higher tax on gasoline, for example, is better than CAFE standards as a policy to improve the fuel efficiency of the American car fleet. It would also encourage people to drive leby, for instance, living closer to where they work. A tax on carbon is the best way to deal with global warming. These are called Pigovian taxes, after the British economist Arthur Pigou, an early advocate of using taxes to correct market imperfections.
Similarly, economists have increasingly viewed "sin taxes" as a good way to raise revenue. While Pigovian taxes aim to protect innocent bystanders from the actions of others, sin taxes aim to protect people from themselves.
To the extent that people have problems with self-control, sin taxes
can be welfare-enhancing. Economists Jonathan Gruber and Sendhil
Mullainathan report evidence that smokers are happier when cigarette
taxes are higher. Of course, non-smokers won"t object to shifting the
tax burden to others. Maybe we should consider higher taxes on smoking,
drinking, gambling and other activities about which people lack
类似的，经济学家更把“罪恶税”看做是一个提高税收的好办法。如果说Pigovian税收的目的是保护无辜的群众不受他人活动的侵害，那么”罪恶税”的目的则是保护人们自己不受自己的侵害。基于人们在自制力上的问题，“罪恶税”可成为增加社会福利的好办法。经济学家Jonathan Gruber和Sendhil Mullainathan报告中有证据称，当烟草税增加的时候吸烟者更高兴。当然，不吸烟者不会反对烟草税对他人增加的负担。也许我们可以考虑对烟草、酒精、赌博等有关人类自制力的活动增收更多的税。
Finally, even if the income tax is to be used to increase revenue, we should broaden the base rather than raise rates. Last November, the President"s Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform offered several good suggestions when it handed its report to John Snow. Mr. Paulson should continue talking about tax reform and insist that these ideas get more attention from Congrethan they have gotten so far.
For example, the panel proposed eliminating the deductibility of state and local taxes. This makes sense. Under current law, if one town enacts high local taxes to finance a municipal pool while a neighboring town does not, the first town gets a federal subsidy at the expense of the second. That outcome is neither efficient nor equitable.
The President"s Advisory Panel also proposed scaling back the
mortgage-interest deduction. The federal tax system now tilts the
playing field toward residential capital at the expense of corporate
capital, which in turn reduces productivity and real wages. Even if one
believes that policy should promote homeownership over renting (a
debatable claim), there is no reason to encourage people to buy ever
larger homes. Let"s lower the cap on subsidized mortgages well below
its present $1 million level.
There are many options for dealing with the long-term fiscal imbalance while keeping tax rates low. The main reason the problem is not yet resolved is that the American people have not put enough pressure on their elected representatives to take the issue seriously. The sooner they do, the better. If Hank Paulson wants to leave the nation"s finances in better shape than he found them, his main job will be to focus attention on the problem.