This was the question posed by a commenter on my last post. He or she makes some suggestions for what I could do, and so I figured I would post them and provide some further comments.
1. You could contribute to moderate Republicans who would increase taxes (I don't believe in such a thing, but you apparently do).
Yes, this is true, but how would an anonymous commenter on the blog know which candidates I contribute to and which ones I don't? In general, I don't give money to politicians, but neither do I hang up the phone when they or their staffs occasionally call. I would lend support to any elected official, of any party, who set a more ambitious deficit reduction target than cutting the unified budget deficit in half by 2009. We are in the healthy part of a cyclical recovery--the on-budget deficit (i.e. excluding the level and growth of the Social Security surplus) should be in surplus. To get back into surplus, I believe that we should take as much as we can out of spending (including the General Fund's contribution to Medicare and the part of the Defense budget that represents corporate welfare) before raising taxes. But if the spending cuts are inadequate, broad-based taxes should go up to get the budget in balance over the business cycle.
2. You could organize Republican economists for sanity who could propose increasing taxes.
I suppose this is another possibility, but I don't have the time. Between teaching and research and other administrative responsibilities, I barely have time to blog these days. But if there is a coalition forming on the center-right around fiscal restraint on spending, I would be happy to lend my voice. I certainly don't support making the remaining 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent before the budget is brought into balance (which, in the current environment, means that I don't support making them permanent).
3. You could testify before Congress in opposition to this administration's tax policies.
History suggests that my testifying is bad for the President. I was asked to testify twice before. The first occasion coincided with the delivery of the Starr Report. The second occasion coincided with the impeachment hearings. I don't think I had the Senators' full attention either time. But more importantly, one has to be asked to testify, and no one has been asking. I would go if asked.
4. You could write an op-ed supporting higher taxes and restoring a more progressive tax structure.I've had virtually no success in getting op-eds published over the years. (Here is an exception that I like.) Part of the reason I started blogging was because I think that a well done blog, or even an insightful post, is going to be almost as good and with much lower hassle. I think that I have been mindful of budget balance and progressivity on this blog. See this Econoblog in the Wall Street Journal, this post on how I would reform Social Security, and this post on how I would change the tax treatment of health insurance premiums.
I appreciate the comments, even those that begin with "Hack!" The irony of this exchange, to me at least, is that the last post expressed disappointment that, for no good reason, the baseline budget got $300 billion worse over 10 years due to legislation passed since last September.
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