Consensus among economists ?

Dan here…. Jonathon Chait writes in the NYT Paul Ryan: Obama Refuses to Endorse Tax Fairy. Lifted from Robert’s Stochastic Thoughts on journalistic rhetorical language and consensus:

on Chait

there’s not really a growing consensus that tax reform is good. The consensus has existed among economists forever

where he defines tax reform as closing tax deductions and loopholes and lowering rates.

I comment

Consensus among economists ? You must be joking. I am an economist and I absolutely oppose lowering rates whether or not loopholes are eliminated. As to loopholes, well it depends. Should we eliminate the mortgage interest deduction ? Sure (but not yet — and not quickly — low housing investment is a problem now). The deduction for charitable contributions not so much. Tax employer provided health insurance when the Republicans stop trying to kill Obamacare (that is on the first of never). Eliminate the R&D tax credit ? Why ? Are you nuts ? Eliminate the investment tax credit ? Why tax reinvested profits at all ?
No one likes tax expenditures in the abstract (as almost everyone dislikes high government spending in the abstract). It is impossible to get a consensus once one discusses which deductions to eliminate (Chait went on to note this in the post).

Chait has long supported broadening the base and lowering rates (he was a passionate enthusiast for the 1986 tax reform). The economists who basically agree with Paul Ryan have long supported tax reform. Most non Randian economists do to. But many of us don’t.

If you want to claim there is a consensus, show me a poll. Also one on just what should capital gains tax rates, tax treatment of capital income and top income tax rates. On the second set of questions, I am willing to bet a small amount of money at even odds that most members of the American Economic Association disagree with Ryan about the direction in which policy should change.