NPR is peddling a "consensus" on six policies that "economists of all stripes" advocate. [HT to Wim Christiaens on facebook.] It is a very nice example of how a supposedly scientific consensus masks political ideology. Now, for the record: I am no economist, but I happen to support four of these ((i) eliminate the mortgage tax deduction; (ii) eliminate the tax deduction companies get for providing health-care to employees; (iii) Tax carbon emissions (in progressive fashion); (iv) Legalize marijuana). I also support elimination of payroll taxes. But I do not see why we should switch from a progressive income tax to a progressive consumption tax. Robert Frank (a creative economist who suppposedly represented the left on the program) explains his attraction to the idea here. As he admits (this is the money-quote of the day), "it would likely have the opposite effect on wealth inequality, since the rich could better take advantage of the savings exemption." No kidding. Private bankers will have a field day in creating financial products in which consumption get disguised as savings. This is the kind of proposal that no serious left-winger will find atractive. (I am, by the way, a happy bourgeois.) Now, maybe more savings would really help society's ills, but that can be achieved through more modest steps (you know, expand incentives for tax-free saving).
But the truly bogus proposal is this one: "Eliminate the corporate income tax. Completely. If companies reinvest the money into their businesses, that's good. Don't tax companies in an effort to tax rich people." First, it is simply not true that business investment is always everywhere "good"--it's not even always an economic good (cf Japan ca 1985). But let's leave that aside. Second, there are sane reasons to tax companies. Corporations often draw on lots of public goods provided by local communities; taxing their income is a sane way to pay for these goods (not to mention possible externalities). This is especially so given that stakeholders of corporations are often very different from the local citizenry. (I am using 'local' in a wide sense by the way.) Given that since Citizens United, Stateside corporations are treated as citizens there is absolutely no political reason why they shouldn't be asked to pay up to carry their badge of liberty.