Great Moments in Bad Ideas

Via the Weekly Standard (with video):

Gene Sperling, director of the White House's national economic council, said today at an official meeting that "we need a global minimum tax":

Pegging our tax rates to France is almost as good an idea as pegging our exchange rates to Greece.

Also, this statement is a hilarious mass of contradictions

“He supports corporate tax reform that would reduce expenditures and loopholes, lower rates for people investing and creating jobs in the U.S., due so further for manufacturing, and that we need to, as we have the Buffett Rule and the individual tax reform, we need a global minimum tax so that people have the assurance that nobody is escaping doing their fair share as part of a race to the bottom or having our tax code actually subsidized and facilitate people moving their funds to tax havens," Sperling said.

He wants to lower rates for people investing, but he wants to institute the Buffett Rule, which effectively raises taxes on people whose income is substantially dividends and capital gains, ie people who invest.  He wants special rates for creating jobs and extra special rates in manufacturing, but he wants to get rid of loopholes, most of which were created at least with the nominal intent of spurring investment in certain sectors, particularly manufacturing.


  1. Bill:

    And you really think that it doesn't make a difference if Obama beats the Republican candidate this fall?

  2. me:

    Yup. This kind of BS will never pass, it's all rhetorical posturing. Anyone serious would propose a blanket 20% tax on all income, no exceptions, no extra rules.

  3. me:

    Oh, and for recent factual evidence of the exchangeability of candidates, just compare the Bush and Obama talking points (extremely different) to their actions (extremely similar).

  4. CTD:

    That's what, three self-contradictions in one sentence?

    I nominate him for a Bulwer-Lytton Award.

  5. anoNY:

    " we need a global minimum tax "

    Please hold while my fellow libertarians and I go blog about this confirmation of a vast, international conspiracy by the UN...

  6. Mesa Econoguy:

    This is the Gene Sperling who is head of the National Economic Council.

    Guess where he got his economics degree?


    Keep guessing....... [he doesn’t have one].

    That says a lot about the abject, total, complete, galactic economic ignorance of this administration.

    Stupid ideas from stupid people.

  7. Bob Smith:

    "This kind of BS will never pass, it’s all rhetorical posturing"

    How do you figure? "Tax harmonization" has long been a goal of the OECD.

  8. rxc:

    And, of course, no one mentions municipal bonds, which are tax exempt, because we do not think that it would be a good idea to drain money from local govt and school districts to the Fed govt. I seem to remember that Teresa Heinz Kerry was a particularly large owner of munis, and she paid NOTHING on the interest from them.

  9. Mark2:

    I would say we could do this.

    Drop the corporate tax rate to zero.

    Tax dividends @ personal income rates. That way the taxes will go down (EG Buffet really pays about 45% because of the double tax vs 33% under this plan) but then the personal tax looks high, so people like Buffet can't get away with their Tax the rich chicanery.

  10. Mark2:

    I wonder how much stimulus we would have gotten if, instead of the stimulus package and tarp, congress instead, just offered corporations 0% tax on all dividends they distribute.

    Companies - which usually bend over backwards to try to minimize profits to avoid taxes would be going out of their way to find income, and distribute it to shareholders.

  11. me:

    @Bob - Global peace and prosperity have long been goals of the UN... as long as you can make money by talking nicely about lofty goals, there will be people occupying positions doing so with absolutely no motivation to ever achieve the goals that enable their lifestyle ;)

    @Mark2 - excellent thought experiment! me, I'd rather see a general 20% income tax (and no taxation of corporations, ever - it's simply too impractical) or a simlpe 1% tax on all transactions. Simple being the key word here.

  12. me:

    Just ran across this (re: exchangeability of candidates): Apparently Mitt Romney is also rather good at contradicting himself:

    “This week, President Obama will release a budget that won’t take any meaningful steps toward solving our entitlement crisis,” Romney said in a statement e-mailed to reporters. “The president has failed to offer a single serious idea to save Social Security and is the only president in modern history to cut Medicare benefits for seniors.”

    Not sure if he means there aren't enough entitlements. Sigh.

  13. caseyboy:

    A minimum global tax? Really? Whose treasury collects? Who handles enforcement? What a dangerously stupid idea. Wealth distribution on a global scale.

  14. Rick Caird:

    I loved the title of the post.

  15. Mesa Econoguy:

    Even Brad DeLong, who is extremely chart-laden but highly ignorant, can at least point to some minimal economic qualification.

    Gene Sperling has a distinguished background of crap.