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Thursday, September 2, 2010

More stimulus?

In a speech at the National Press Club yesterday, outgoing Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Christine Romer noted the need for more economic stimulus to help the economy. (Reuters, Bohan, "Romer: U.S. must find will for further stimulus")

If the President and Congress follow that advise, does it mean the tax law has to change? Prior economic stimulus measures have included temporary changes to the tax law including bonus depreciation, larger expensing deductions, greater gain exclusion percentages for qualified small business stock, longer NOL carrybacks and even larger credits for higher education expenses. I'm not convinced that it has all helped but has certainly made the tax law more complex. Also, taxpayers seems to want to keep temporary measures around forever which usually leads to continued temporariness due to the challenge of finding tax increases or spending cuts to pay for the tax breaks.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included both tax changes and various spending measures. I'd like to see any additional stimulus be targeted to where it is most likely to do the most good which is probably in employing the unemployed. Paying for that will likely result in permanent tax increases as recently occurred with the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act (P.L. 111-226; 8/10/10) which included several tax law changes regarding international provisions.

I don't think extending all of the 2001/2003 tax cuts for one more year will help much either and Congress will have to find a way to pay for the cuts for those with income over $250K ($200K if not married). See my 7/31/10 post and 8/20/10 post on these topics on targeting those dollars to where they will best help the economy and even looking at the 2001/2003 tax cuts for those making less than $250K (which is a lot of income - why is President Obama so focused on providing tax cuts to people who don't need them?!)

What do you think - more stimulus? If yes, what and how to pay for it?

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