Which Is More Important: Increasing Growth or Decreasing Inequality?


The progressive Global Strategy Group has recently released a new survey report “Focus on Growth to Frame Priorities” with a valuable message for all political candidates, left, right and center.
CaptureGSG surveyed 3000 registered voters earlier this year and discovered that they overwhelmingly rate economic growth as a higher priority than economic fairness, economic justice, expanding the middle class, increasing wages or decreasing income inequality.  In fact, economic growth trumped all of these alternative policy strategies by wide margins as shown below.
Capture1GSG then goes on to list various possible growth strategies in order of voter popularity such as making college more affordable, modernizing infrastructure, improving K-12 education and others (see below). This list of possible growth strategies is made up mostly of new spending programs.  The less costly might be doable by reforming existing spending programs.  But expensive new programs simply will not fly in today’s high deficit environment.
Capture2What is needed is a growth strategy which does not require new spending.  The obvious choice is tax reform.  For example, the fourth item in the above chart, reduce outsourcing by American companies, could be addressed by reforming corporate taxes.
But an even better growth strategy is individual tax reform whereby tax rates are lowered across the board, paid for by shrinking the many loopholes and deductions which primarily benefit the wealthy.
I described such a plan in detail in a previous post, but here is a brief summary: 64% of taxpayers do not itemize their deductions.  This means that any reduction in tax rates will put money in their pockets.  Since these are primarily the same middle- and lower-income workers with stagnant incomes, they will likely spend most of their increased pay, thus giving the economy a big boost.
In summary, the GSG report provides ammunition for political candidates of all ideological stripes.  Let’s have a contest to see which party can be the most pro-growth.  The winner will be the American people!

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