Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dueling Economic Advisors at Tax Policy Center

Will they use pistols or swords?

Given Goolsbee's past record as a champion debater, my money's on him. Plus in recent appearances and interviews, Holtz-Eakin has looked pretty frazzled.

Just in case the fight is not on pay-per-view, I will try to attend and prepare my report.

Dueling Tax Plans: What Would McCain and Obama Do?
A conversation with the candidates' top economic advisers

Sponsored by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center
Wednesday, July 23, 2008, Noon–1:30 p.m. EDT
Katharine Graham Conference Center, Urban Institute
2100 M Street, N.W., Washington, DC

Senior policy advisers Austan Goolsbee of the Obama campaign and Douglas Holtz-Eakin of the McCain campaign will make the case for their candidates’ tax plans in a lively exchange moderated by Urban Institute President Robert Reischauer. The event, hosted by the Tax Policy Center, will begin with an updated and expanded analysis of the candidates’ tax proposals by TPC Director Len Burman. Participants will address questions from the audience.


Richard H. Serlin said...

I hope you don't mind if I post a comment regarding Paul Krugman's column today here. I think it's very important:

There's a crucial little known fact that Paul Krugman and everyone else for universal health care needs to know:

The bill for it can be structured so it's not filibusterable.

So it only needs 50 votes (with a Democratic vice president).

It's therefore far more realistic to achieve than people think, and we don't have to compromise and not have a true universal health care plan as Obama has done at least so far (although he's said things to leave himself wiggle room to propose a true universal healthcare plan after being elected.)

New Republic Senior Editor Jonathan Chait describes this in his 2007 book, "The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics".

On page 204:

Perhaps the most incredible thing about the [1993 Clinton] health care debacle is that the Democrats could have avoided the filibuster that ultimately killed the reform if not for the stubborn insistence of one senator – a liberal Democrat, at that. Passage would have been all but guaranteed if the senate had included health care as part of a "reconciliation bill". This is a senate term for an annual piece of legislation dealing with the budget. A reconciliation bill, unlike any other, cannot be filibustered and therefore can pass with a simple 51-vote majority. Given that the Democrats controlled 57 senate seats, the numbers would have allowed for easy passage even with a half dozen defections.

Yet the Democrats did not do this because West Virginia's Robert Byrd adamantly refused. Byrd was an old fashioned New Deal Democrat who supported reform but cared more about the traditions of the Senate than anything else. He was given to interminable speeches quoting Cicero and other orators of antiquity, and his sense of importance exceeded even Moynihan's. Byrd objected on the grounds that reconciliation bills could be subjected to a twenty-hour debate limit, and he felt the issue too important to be so circumscribed. He would not budge in the face of pleas from Clinton and his fellow senators, and his ability to tie the senate in knots if so inclined deterred the Clinton administration from crossing him. In the end, Dole spearheaded a filibuster that killed the potential reform.

End Quote

See also, the Washington Post article from March 14th, 1993, "Shortcut for Health Care Plan Blocked", available at:

As I've written before, enacting universal health care would create such enormous political capital, it would be well worth making any enemies in the Senate. And once it was enacted, like old age Social Security and Medicaid, people would clearly see how much better off they were with it than before, and the Republicans would (probably) never be able to get rid of it. It would be political death, another third rail of American Politics. So there's no need for a hopefully new Democratic administration to be scared to go for a true universal health care plan. I hope everyone in a new Democratic administration understand this.

Richard H. Serlin

Richard H. Serlin said...

Please note I made added this important addition to my blog post that I copied to your comments above:

After looking into this further, Jonathan Chait, normally a good source, may be misleading here or incorrect. Senator Robert Byrd wrote a senate rule which was passed in the 1980s which allowed objections to be raised for reconcilliation bills when "extraneous" material is included, that is provisions that have no budgetary impact. I've done a good deal of reading on filibusters, but this is a fine and difficult legal point, and to really get a clear idea of whether a universal health care plan would be able to aviod filibuster, or whether perhaps some parts of it would, while others would require 60 votes, requires an expert specializing in this area of the law.