John Irons's Blog


Economic News, Data and Analysis

Cleaning House

What’s interesting here is the lack of serious economists being mentioned for economic posts…
**Note/Update: A reader pointed out that Jim Poterba is mentioned in the below article. I did not mean to imply that Jim is not a serious economist – indeed I think he is very serious and very good. (Perhaps that is why he turned down the job?)

Bush to Change Economic Team (
President Bush plans to overhaul his economic team for the second time in two years and wants to tap prominent figures outside the administration to help sell rewrites of Social Security and the tax laws to Congress and the country, White House aides and advisers said over the weekend.
The aides said the replacement of four of the five top economic officials — including the Treasury and Commerce secretaries, with only budget director Joshua B. Bolten likely to remain — is part of Bush’s preparation for sending Congress an ambitious second-term domestic agenda.

One senior administration official said Treasury Secretary John W. Snow is free to stay as long as he wants, provided it is not very long.

Filed under: Uncategorized


From the does-anyone-think-this-is-a-good-idea? department.
The budget situation is beginning to bite. Scientific research and technological innovation are thought to be strong determinants of long-run economic growth. Hence, cutting the NSF is not a good idea.

NSF Budget Cut in Omnibus Appropriations Bill – Biweekly Updates from NCSE
In a disappointment to the scientific community, the National Science Foundation (NSF) budget would decline by $107 million or 1.9 percent to $5.47 billion in FY 2005. Under the omnibus appropriations bill, NSF’s Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account would receive $4.22 billion — a decrease of $32 million (0.8 percent) relative to the FY 2004 enacted level. The Education and Human Resources (EHR) account would be cut by 10 percent to $841 million.

Filed under: Economics

No tax reform this year?

I hope Mark is right about tax reform. The stuff that is being floated right now is comically terrible.
Rather than putting forth tax reform, it now looks like Bush will be spending his “political capital” on so-called social security reform. Right now it looks like the “reform” will be a benefit cut tied together with a couple trillion dollars in debt in order to fund privatization accounts.
Give me a couple trillion dollars, and I too can think of some great ways to make a bad policy look good.

The Decembrist
I was at a panel discussion earlier this week with Gene Steuerle of the Urban Institute, who said that he was skeptical that the Bush administration would propose a serious overhaul of the tax code because, “I know what it looks like when people are working seriously on tax reform, and I’m not seeing it.” As a Treasury official in the Reagan era, Steuerle was one of the architects of the 1986 Tax Reform Act, so he does indeed know what it looks like, probably better than anyone.

Filed under: Economics


So, I’ve enabled comments again. The volume of spam in comments got overwhelming there for a while. I have required registration before comments will be accepted. I hope this is not too much trouble…

Filed under: Website

More Tax Policy News | More relief for struggling millionaires
More relief for struggling millionaires
If you thought the current Bush tax rate rewarded the wealthy, wait until you get a load of his administration’s latest plan.”
A correction – I said 62 percent, not 52 percent in the interview for the above story.

Filed under: Economics

Tax policy going even farther down the tubes…

Heath insurance? Who really needs health insurance anyway?

Bush Plans Tax Code Overhaul (
Instead the administration plans to push major amendments that would shield interest, dividends and capitals gains from taxation, expand tax breaks for business investment and take other steps intended to simplify the system and encourage economic growth, according to several people who are advising the White House or are familiar with the deliberations.
The changes are meant to be revenue-neutral. To pay for them, the administration is considering eliminating the deduction of state and local taxes on federal income tax returns and scrapping the business tax deduction foremployer-provided health insurance, the advisers said.

Does anyone think this is a good idea? Anyone?
Do I really need to explain why eliminating the tax incentive for businesses to provide health insurance will lead to more uninsured?
Do we really need to have the discussion yet again why the private market for heath insurance is fundamentally challenged by adverse selection? Do we?
Do we really need to trot out some distribution tables to show that cutting capital gains, interest, and dividends opens up huge loopholes, and benefits disproportionally the very wealthy?
Well, either people need to start paying attention, or poof! goes the health care for millions of Americans.

Filed under: Economics

Full Wall Street Journal Postings

Permanent links to WSJ Econoblog:
day one: Social Security
day two: Trade
day three: Europe and Asia
day four: Taxes
day five: Bush Agenda

Filed under: Economics

More on WSJ Econoblog – The Economic Fortunes Of Europe and Asia
The Rise of Outsourcing
Social Security: What’s Next?

Filed under: Website

WSJ blog – Social Security: What’s Next?
The WSJ has a couple “econobloggers” for the week (they have a free preview this week)…
Look familiar?

Filed under: Website


Just upgraded to Movable type v3.1.
I wish it were that easy to upgrade everything else.

Filed under: Website