Tax reform has taken center stage in Washington, DC, with policymakers on both sides of the aisle wrestling with a range of priorities, from individual income tax rates to corporate taxes; tax expenditures directed at home ownership, state and local deductions, and charitable giving; the estate tax; and more. If tax reform is, indeed, a once in a lifetime opportunity, is it possible to simplify the tax code, boost the middle class, and spur business innovation in one core package? And is there opportunity for a tax reform effort that receives bi-partisan support?
On Monday, October 30th, the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics (BFI), in partnership with the Union League Club of Chicago’s Public Affairs Committee, hosted an evening of cocktails and conversation discussion to explore these issues. Former Council of Economic Advisers Chairmen Austan Goolsbee (President Obama) and Edward Lazear (President George W. Bush), both experts on tax policy, shared their views on the politics and policies influencing tax reform. Jim Tankersley, Tax and Economics Reporter for the New York Times, moderated the roundtable.
"If you're asking how can we best affect the average working American, my argument would be growth is an essential part of that because it feeds into productivity, which then feeds into wages," Edward Lazear.
"I agree growth is critically important and for sure, over the long run, is, in some sense, the only thing that matters. I think...the last 20 years in the United States at least, have had this trend break from the multi-hundred-year pattern that productivity growth and wage growth move together. That fundamentally broke, starting sometime in the 80s, maybe as you go into the 90s," Austan Goolsbee.
You can find video from the event here.
You can find photos from the event here.