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Economic facts about taxes: Rates, revenues and reform options

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Fiscal issues will rapidly come to the fore next fall as the federal government faces the looming expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, the onset of the deficit “trigger,” and another debate on the debt limit. Across the political spectrum, one of the few points on which today’s policymakers can agree is that the tax code is in desperate need of reform.

On May 3, The Hamilton Project hosted a policy forum on the economic context for tax reform and the economic criteria that should be used when evaluating tax reform options. As part of the event, the Project released a new policy memo, “A Dozen Facts About Tax Reform,” to help shed light on various aspects of the reform debate.

Following opening remarks, former Council of Economic Advisers Chair Martin Feldstein and Lawrence H. Summers, former Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and former U.S. Treasury Secretary, discussed the broad economic case for tax reform.

A second panel of experts debatde key principles for a successful tax reform effort, drawing from a range of experiences. Participants included Business Roundtable President and former Michigan Governor John Engler; Center for American Progress Chair and Counselor John Podesta; NBER President and CEO James Poterba; and Brookings Senior Fellow Alice Rivlin. After each panel, the speakers took audience questions.


Welcome and Introductions

Robert E. Rubin
Co-Chair, Council on Foreign Relations
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary

Overview of “A Dozen Facts About Tax Reform”

Adam Looney
Senior Fellow and Policy Director, The Hamilton Project
The Brookings Institution

Roundtable: The Economic Case for Tax Reform

Martin Feldstein
Professor of Economics, Harvard University
President Emeritus, National Bureau of Economic Research
Former Chair, President’s Council of Economic Advisers

Lawrence H. Summers
Charles W. Eliot University Professor, Harvard University
Former Assistant to the President for Economic Policy
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary

Moderator:  Zanny Minton Beddoes
Economics Editor, The Economist

Roundtable: Key Principles for a Successful Reform Effort

The Honorable John Engler
President, Business Roundtable
Former Governor of Michigan

John Podesta
Chair and Counselor, Center for American Progress

James Poterba
President, National Bureau of Economic Research
Professor of Economics, MIT

Alice Rivlin
Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

Moderator:  Michael Greenstone
Senior Fellow and Director, The Hamilton Project
The Brookings Institution

Event Forum

Washington Court Hotel

Available Downloads

Full, enedited transcriptpdf


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