Robert McIntyre

Robert S. McIntyre is director of Citizens for Tax Justice and a contributing editor for The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

The Flat Taxers' Flat Distortions

Several leading Republicans now claim that a flat tax can lower most taxpayers' burden, close loopholes, and avoid revenue shortfalls. Wrong on all counts.

H aving attacked the liberal accomplishments of the Great Society and New Deal, congressional Republicans are preparing to eliminate a reform that stretches even further back into history: the progressive income tax. Republicans in both houses of Congress have introduced plans for a flat tax, claiming that its simplicity and fairness will be a boon to all. Majority Leader Dick Armey, presenting his plan, states that "millions of taxpayers are taken off the rolls entirely, and middle Americans receive a tax cut." The first part of that claim is largely true. Since Armey's plan does not tax income from interest, dividends, or capital gains, those taxpayers who live completely off of investment income would be taken off the rolls entirely. The second part of the claim is, by any serious accounting, wrong. Armey's plan has two parts: It replaces the progressive income tax with a flat tax, and it replaces business taxes with a consumption tax. Both elements would dramatically shift the tax...

The Taxonomist:

In a letter to the Washington Post on October 29, the Cato Institute's fiscal-policy director, Chris Edwards, wrote to urge the repeal of the corporate minimum tax. His central argument was that three of the companies that would get the biggest rebates, IBM, General Motors, and General Electric, are way overtaxed now. Indeed, he claimed, these companies paid "an enormous $3.4 billion, $1 billion and $5.7 billion, respectively," in federal income taxes last year. I immediately wrote to the Post to correct Cato's misstatements. The truth is that IBM paid a mere $191 million in taxes on its $5.7 billion in U.S. profits last year, a tax rate of only 3.4 percent. GM actually got a tax rebate of $105 million, despite $2.9 billion in U.S. profits. And GE paid $2.3 billion--not $5.7 billion--on U.S. profits of $13.1 billion. Moreover, GE's semi-respectable 17.7 percent tax rate last year was an aberration; over the previous two years, its tax rate was only 8.8 percent. To get its colossally...

The Reaganites and the Renegade

Conservative Republican strategists are hopping mad at Kevin Phillips. For years, they have embraced (with much success) the notion outlined by Phillips in his 1969 book, The Emerging Republican Majority, that middle-class voters could be wooed by running against the poor. But now, Phillips seems to have deserted his erstwhile allies. In his latest book, The Politics of Rich and Poor, Phillips advances an opposing populist theme that can be embraced only by Democrats: the idea of running against the rich. Phillips's earlier book was based primarily on extensive polling results showing a deep-seated white voter reaction against Democrats after enactment of the 1966 Civil Rights Act (a reaction that Lyndon Johnson himself predicted when he signed the bill). In contrast, his new argument rests mainly on economic data. He relies especially on recent reports from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) showing that over the past twelve years the rich have gotten much richer, while their...