The Long Run and the Short Run


“I agree with you that something must be done now. The trick is what will work the best in the short term to trigger the agreement between the fiscal conservatives and the modern liberals to cut costs and balance the budget that we both agree on. We can agree to disagree on the solution details but I hope you are successful in achieving the short term goals you are working tirelessly on.
Just as big a question is what will work the best in the long run to prevent it from happening again. I will continue to work on changing the intellectual environment that I see as a precondition to solidifying your short-term gains and preventing a re-occurrence.”
These are the words of my Omaha libertarian friend, David Demarest, with whom I have an ongoing dialogue.  He wants to cut back and limit the scope of government.  I’m willing to have a more expansive government as long as we’re willing to pay for it.
The secret to solving many of our current problems (stagnant economy, high unemployment, massive debt, increasing inequality) is to grow our economy faster.  The best way to accomplish this is by boosting investment and entrepreneurship with broad-based tax reform, by lowering tax rates for both individuals and corporations, paid for by eliminating deductions and closing loopholes.
But some people think that lowering tax rates means lower taxes on the rich.  To counteract this perception, and at the same time to raise additional tax revenue to lower the deficit, I propose to  levy a new wealth tax of 1% of assets with an exemption of $10 million per person to make sure that the tax only applies to the “truly wealthy.”
I believe that a program along these lines is the best way to get our economy back on track.  But, at the same time we need to figure out how to avoid falling back into another slow growth, high debt trap anytime soon.
A good way to achieve long run protection is with a balanced budget amendment.  It would need to be flexible, allowing for emergencies, and also phased in over several years to allow citizens and legislators time to make the necessary adjustments to spending and taxes.

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