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Tax Reform

Savings, Retirement and Social Security Reform

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Tax Reform Articles, Commentaries and Op-eds

On the Cusp of Historic Tax Reforms
National Review Online, February 8, 2017
By Ernest S. Christian

The GOP blueprint, including its border tax adjustment, will boost free trade.

As Tax Reform Goes, So Goes The Nation
Investors Business Daily, January 27, 2017
By Ernest S. Christian

The fate of the Republicans' signature reform of the tax code in 2017 will be an early indication of how well President Trump and the GOP Congress work together in remaking federal law and policy on a broad front.

Why Foreign Buyers Are Snapping Up U.S. Companies
Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2016
By James Carter and Ernest S. Christian

No matter who is elected president in November, fixing America’s broken tax code should be a high priority.

Don't Let Semantics Distort Tax Reform
Real Clear Markets, February 1, 2016
By Ernest S. Christian

The VAT word is strictly a red herring. Neither Senator Cruz nor anyone else is proposing a VAT (crypto or otherwise) - and no one is ever likely to do so. It is time to excise the VAT word from the tax lexicon or at least to stop using it incorrectly.

The VAT Tax Scare Is A Hoax
Investor's Business Daily, January 27, 2016
By Ernest S. Christian

Tax reformers should focus on creating the best tax code for America — instead of creating confusion by wrongly tossing around the “VAT” word as a j’accuse epithet.

Riding In To Fix Failure: Four Rs Of Reaganism 2.0
Investor's Business Daily, June 8, 2012
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
The four Rs of the much-needed second Reagan Revolution are Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio and Rob Portman. Together they can get Washington's boot off the economy's neck and let Americans be Americans.

Liberal Conceit And The Havoc It Has Wrought On Our Nation
Investor's Business Daily, October 21, 2011
By Ernest S. Christian
Liberals claim to be more compassionate toward the poor and minorities, but there is nothing smart or compassionate about running up government debt to record levels and having nothing to show for it except an impaired credit rating, 9% unemployment, the home ownership rate at its lowest point since 1965 and the smallest portion of the population actually working at jobs since 1983.

A Value-Added Tax Fuels Big Government
Wall Street Journal, August 24, 2011
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
The VAT is believed to be a magical device that can stuff government coffers with money without untoward economic political consequences. It is no such thing.

Paul Ryan's Big Economy Vs. President's Big Gov't
Investor's Business Daily, July 8, 2011
By Ernest S. Christian
Republicans and independents who are serious about getting America out of debt and people back to work will do their best to convince Paul Ryan to run for president - and defeat Barack Obama.

Riding Income Redistribution Back To White House In 2012
Investor's Business Daily, April 21, 2011
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
Obama's trick is to expropriate money from people who work hard and pay their taxes - and use the loot to scatter around enough political lagniappe to piece together a majority of bought-and-paid for votes.

Ryan Rides To The Rescue With Realistic Budget Plan
Investor's Business Daily, April 6, 2011
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
In opposition to Obama's road to ruin, Paul Ryan has unveiled a high-minded "Path to Prosperity" by which America can escape the spend-debt-tax trap set by Obama before it's finally and fatally sprung.

A Scorecard Of Negatives, A Menace To Our Future
Investor's Business Daily, March 17, 2011
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
By any rational standard, Barack Obama gets an F for job performance and should - on that basis alone - either resign or be voted out ASAP before he does further harm.

New 21st Century Politics: Getting Gov't Out of Way
Investor's Business Daily, February 23, 2011
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
Will Obama turn out to be America's first post-freedom, post-prosperity president? Americans do not like being deceived and pushed around. And they will not tolerate having their pockets picked.

A Manual For New-Style Republicans
Investor's Business Daily, January 5, 2011
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
A "how-to" manual of good governance is available to the newly elected Republicans coming to Congress with a mandate to restore competence and integrity to the Capitol. It is called "A Roadmap for America's Future."

Higher Taxes: The Definition Of Recklessness
Investor's Business Daily, October 9, 2010
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
President Obama must surely know that the harm from his scheme to increase tax rates on the "rich" (couples making as much as $250,001) will fall heavily on the middle class and the working poor.

The Second Declaration Of Independence
Investor's Business Daily, September 11, 2010
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
Instead of apologizing to the world for America, Obama should apologize to us. His administration seems unfortunately to have lost both its economic mind and its moral compass.

Will Washington's Failures Lead To Second American Revolution?
Investor's Business Daily, July 31, 2010
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
Barack Obama may bankrupt us and replace our merit-based capitalist economy with a small government-directed one of his own design.

Dark Prospects For Spendthrift Democrats
Investor's Business Daily, June 9, 2010
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
The Democratic Party's most well-known characteristic (spend a lot of money fast) may be fatal at the polls.

A Choice for the Condemned
Washington Times, May 10, 2010
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
Barack Obama is risking America's future by running up the debt in a hurry-up effort to get in place as quickly as possible - while he still can - his planned expansion of the welfare state.

The Nation's Imminent Debt Crisis Is A Matter Of Choice - Obama's
Investor's Business Daily, March 27, 2010
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
The president's fiscal credibility is low and America's future is uncertain - the question being whether the president is going to ruin the economy by continuing to run up the debt or ruin it with massive tax increases.

Governing Well Isn't That Hard (See Ryan Plan)
Investor's Business Daily, March 2, 2010
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
Taking a minimalist approach and adhering to free market principles, Ryan has fixed the infamously "unfixable" tax code, provided affordable health care solutions and made the tottering Social Security system secure.

Washington Must Avoid Tax Trap That Will Send Economy to Brink
Investor's Business Daily, January 28, 2010
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
We can't tax our way out of the hole the president and the Congress are digging for us. Tax increases cost the economy more than they yield to the Treasury in revenue - and especially so in a recession.

Obama's Best Jobs Idea
Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2009
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
Congress should continue to allow small businesses to expense capital equipment purchases.

The Dangers of a Value-Added Tax
Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2009
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
This European version of the sales tax could stealthily and dramatically grow the federal government.

Denying Truth And Rewriting The Dictionary
Investor's Business Daily, October 7, 2009
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
Barack Obama has an elastic (capable of being stretched) approach to reality. Facts that do not suit him are set aside and replaced with fabrications.

Is Obama's Tax On Health Care Constitutional?
Investor's Business Daily, September 26, 2009
By Ernest S. Christian and Betty Jo Christian
The controversial tax that both Obama and Baucus would impose on people who do not buy health insurance appears to be a "direct tax" on persons that is unlawful under Article 1, Section 2, of the Constitution.

Washington's Tangled Web Of Deception
Investor's Business Daily, August 26, 2009
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
Washington taxes us in the way that is well-known to do the maximum amount of damage to us and our economy per dollar of revenue raised. It then spends our money in ways that often do more harm than good.

Let's See What the U.S. Economy Can Really Do
Investor's Business Daily, July 22, 2009
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
If the government ever took its foot off the brake and let the American people see what they and their economy can do, Washington would find it very difficult to clamp down on economic growth again.

Demands are Only Growing Bigger for a Shrinking Base of Taxpayers
Investor's Business Daily, July 2, 2009
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
When government commandeers the taxpayers' money and spends it, the money tends to shrink. Predictably, the highly touted "stimulus" package has not had its hoped-for effect.

Put GM Stock In Voting Trust For Taxpayers
Investor's Business Daily, June 10, 2009
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
It is a mistake for government to acquire GM stock in the first place. But having decided to do so, it would be an even greater mistake to reject an obvious modification of the ownership structure that not only protects the taxpayers but also protects the free enterprise system from political domination, and guards against scandals.

Obama's Plan For A Debt-Ridden Future
Investor's Business Daily, June 6, 2009
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
President Obama has officially begun the era of bigger big government by proposing to go on a multitrillion dollar borrowing spree that risks doing to the "full faith and credit of the United States" what excessive borrowing during the housing bubble did to private credit.

Stupidity and the State, Part II
The Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2008
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
Washington can be counted on to create a crisis -- usually by sheer incompetence. Then it rushes to the rescue, often doing more harm than good.

Stupidity and the State
The Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2008
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
But the millions of inanities that occur daily throughout the government's world-wide empire are mere trifles compared to its big-ticket failures.

Beyond Simplification
The Ripon Forum, Volume 42, No. 1, March/April 2008
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
Reducing tax paperwork is important, but minimizing government's impact on the economy is key.

2008 Elections Won't Result In Better Gov't
Investor's Business Daily, January 15, 2008
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
Ironically, when it comes to money and the economy, most of the government's greatest abuses are because of elections.

The JFK Stimulus Plan
The Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2008
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins

Got an economic downturn? Need a stimulus package? Why not adopt full or partial first-year expensing, which has come to the rescue many times since 1962, when President John F. Kennedy first administered this type of remedy to the economy?

Rx For America: Cost-Benefit Budgeting
Investor's Business Daily, December 7, 2007
By Ernest S. Christian and Bill Frenzel
Step one for the next president should be to tell the American people the truth about the federal government. It is not the source of their well-being. Most of the jobs it creates are for lawyers, lobbyists and bureaucrats. Mostly, it spends other people's money.

Tax Code Is Big Reason For Weak Dollar
Investor's Business Daily, November 6, 2007
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
The federal government is strongly implicated in America's spendthrift status, its enormous trade deficit, the weak dollar and the fact that most Americans are less well-off than they should be.

Government Efficiency Prospects
The Washington Times, Septemeber 9, 2007
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary Robbins
To avoid falling off that precipice, Washington must quickly learn to do "more with less." PART is helpful in identifying where efficiencies can be achieved.

Real Federal Tax Burden Is Double If 'Collateral Damage' Is Included
Investor's Business Daily, July 25, 2007
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
Paying federal taxes does not make us better off. We are poorer by the amount of tax we pay. And because taxes damage the economy, impeding its growth, our pretax incomes are also smaller.

The Cost Of Government Incompetence: 50 Cents On Dollar Down Rathole
Investor's Business Daily, June 26, 2007
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
There are no exciting big new ideas in Washington. Leaving aside law enforcement and national security, there is not much for big government to do these days - other than waste money and cause mischief.

Are Americans Overtaxed?
The Ripon Forum, April 18, 2007
By Ernest S. Christian
Yes we are, if the right measurement is used. It is solely a matter of comparing the cost of taxes to the benefits derived from government spending.

The Fiscal Bottom Line
Wall Street Journal, April 16, 2007
By Ernest S. Christian and William E. Frenzel
Just because something is simple and makes sense does not mean it isn't true -- even in Washington. Consider the proposition that tax cuts are good and tax increases are bad ...

A New Tax Revolution
Washington Times, April 15, 2007
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary Robbins
Lest the 21st century become the post-American century, we the people must rein in big government in Washington. This means drastically reducing its access to money, curtailing its functions and authority, and electing political leaders with the skills and values necessary to achieve a smaller, smarter and much less interfering government.

Government Vs. Economic Growth: Taking Account Of The Real Costs
Investor's Business Daily, February 23, 2007
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
If there is anything more infuriating to some liberals than George Bush himself, with his religiosity and embarrassing accent, it is the common sense, neoclassical idea that tax cuts are good and tax increases are bad...

The Private-Sector Cost of $1 in Government Tax Revenue
Tax Notes, July 26, 2006
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
Have you ever wondered how much it costs the private-sector economy to provide the government with an additional $1 in tax revenue? The rather shocking answer can readily be derived by the type of work now starting to be done by Treasury's fledgling Dynamic Analysis Division.

Congress Refuses To Fix A System That Is Enemy Of Common Sense
Investor's Business Daily, July 12, 2005
By Ernest S. Christian
The American people should demand that Congress get on with the job before more trillions of dollars of GDP are lost, before more jobs are lost and, in the case of some industries, before it is too late.

Key To Reforming The Tax Code: Properly Defining Capital, Income
Investor's Business Daily, June 21, 2005
By Ernest S. Christian
The need for a reliable revenue estimate should not be a barrier to paying for real-world tax reform with a voluntary onetime toll charge.

Opening Mike To Citizen Soldiers Is A Step Forward On Tax Reform
Investor's Business Daily, June 6, 2005
By Ernest S. Christian
People from all corners and persuasions have been given the opportunity to vent about the tax code and to say how it should be fixed. The panel might produce a good tax reform result - but it's clear the members are pioneers in what may be a new way of bringing about major change in public policy and law.

Americans Need A Simplified Tax That Retains Favorite Deductions
Investor's Business Daily, May 10, 2005
By Ernest S. Christian

The present income tax is a mess, and everyone would be grateful if there were some way to replace it with a simple, understandable tax that goes quietly and efficiently about the task of collecting revenue, minding its own business and keeping its hands to itself.

Realistic Definition Of Tax Reform Will Help In Getting The Job Done
Investor's Business Daily, April 25, 2005
By Ernest S. Christian
President Bush has defined tax reform in realistic terms: make the tax code simpler and more conducive to economic growth. To that end, he selected an advisory panel that is, by leadership and composition, well-suited for the job of making tax reform a practical success.

Revisiting 'Scientific Tax Reform': How To Tax Smarter, Not Heavier
Investor's Business Daily, April 12, 2005
By Ernest S. Christian
With broad public support, Bush can achieve what tax reformers have sought for three-quarters of a century - a tax code that promotes, rather than retards, economic activity.

How Did the Tax Code Get so Complicated?
Investor's Business Daily, March 28, 2005
By Ernest S. Christian
The tax code is too complicated for taxpayers or the IRS to understand and apply. It is also complicated beyond the point of being able to serve the political and ideological interests of Congress.

Tax Reform Converges Fortuitously with Social Security Modernization
Investor's Business Daily, March 15, 2005
By Ernest S. Christian
The president's proposal to modernize Social Security with "personal retirement accounts" has much in common with his effort to reform the tax code. So much, in fact, that it is hard to think about one without the other.

Top Billing In Any Tax Reform Plan Must Go To Saving And Investment
Investor's Business Daily, March 1, 2005
By Ernest S. Christian
Let's hope President Bush's Tax Reform Advisory Panel recommends the historic step of pairing up the dynamic duo of tax reform - tax relief for personal savings and first-year expensing for business investment in capital equipment.

Tax Reform Doesn't Have To Be Radical To Be Effective
Investor's Business Daily, February 15, 2005
By Ernest S. Christian
The federal income tax may or may not be replaced by a "consumption tax" and the base of the corporate tax may or may not be changed to "value added." But before any decisions are made, it is important fully to understand the choices in plain English.

Tax Reform That Is Kept Simple Presents A Win-Win Opportunity
Investor's Business Daily, February 1, 2005
By Ernest S. Christian
Tax reform is not the complex, Herculean task that many have thought. The half dozen aberrations in the tax code that are most damaging to economic growth are also sources of much tax complexity. Remove the most egregious impediments to economic growth and get major simplification as a free byproduct.

Government in the Way
The Washington Times, January 31, 2005
By Ernest S. Christian
Judged by marketplace standards, government has a faulty business plan and a product line with too many items. Most don't work properly. All are grossly overpriced. Some are given away or sold at deep discounts to favored customers.

End This Damaging Tax and Trade Charade
Financial Times, March 09, 2004
By Ernest Christian and Gary Hufbauer
When Congress repeals the Foreign Sales Corporation, it should call a halt to the charade that forces the US to tax its exports, while allowing other countries not only to exempt exports from value-added tax but also to impose VAT on imports from the US.

The International Components of Tax Reform: Tax Policy that Serves the National Interest (Part1)
Journal of International Taxation, July 2003
By Ernest S. Christian

Tax reform remedies thus far have been a hodgepodge of international tax rules that often operate at cross-purposes, create perverse incentives, and incur the ire of international trade organizations.

The International Components of Tax Reform: Tax Policy that Serves the National Interest (Part 2)
Journal of International Taxation, February 2004
By Ernest Christian
This is the second and concluding installment on how the current tax system puts U.S. companies at a disadvantage in their efforts to compete internationally.

Manufacturing Repairs
The Washington Times, October 2, 2003
By Ernest S. Christian
Our tax code has long double-taxed manufacturers by not allowing them to expense plant and equipment and by taxing dividends. Even with full relief, the damage already done is so great it might be many years before manufacturing in America fully recovers from the misguided tax policies of the past.

Recovery With More Bang for the Buck
The Washington Times, December 17, 2002
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary Robbins

Step One on the road to recovery should be to stimulate business investment in capital goods. After all, it is a lack of business purchases, not a lack of consumer spending, that has characterized the current economic doldrums.

Stealth Approach to Tax Reform
The Washington Times, November 1, 2002
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
Unbeknownst to many of the loudest advocates for radical change in our archaic tax code, fundamental tax reform is already under way. Mercifully, this lack of awareness extends to the opponents of reform -- of whom there are surprisingly many.

IPI: Quick Study: The International Components of Tax Reform
IPI Center for Tax Analysis, February 12, 2002
By Ernest S. Christian
Our current tax system puts U.S. companies at a disadvantage in their efforts to compete internationally. Remedies thus far have been a hodgepodge of international tax rules that often operate at crosspurposes, create perverse incentives, and incur the ire of international trade organizations. A reformed tax code including territorial taxation would better serve the vital interests of the United States.

Springing Tax Reform From a Bad WTO Case
Tax Notes, April 17, 2000
By Gary Hufbauer, Ernest Christian and Harold Adrion

In its recent Foreign Sales Corporation decision, the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization trashed legal history. Deciding for the European Union and against the United States, the Appellate Body ignored a settlement negotiated 20 years ago. Yet this bad decision gives Congress a springboard to historic tax reform.

De-radicalizing Tax Reform
Tax Notes, April 13, 1998
By Ernest S. Christian

Ernest S. Christian explains how two popular tax reform proposals, the USA Tax and the flat tax, could be made to seem much less radical by being expressed in terms of amendments to the current Internal Revenue Code.

How Much Simplification is Enough? Is a Returnless Tax Realistic?
Tax Notes, December 23, 1996
By Ernest S. Christian

Fundamental tax restructuring may be defeated by its own unrealistic expectations and overblown rhetoric;and, simplification, so often the rhetorical touchstone, is an ancillary product of a tax system that is neutral as between persons, neutral as between labor and capital, neutral as between saved and consumed income, and neutral internationally.

Kemp Commission Report: The Good, The Less Good, and the ...
Tax Notes, January 29, 1996
By Ernest S.Christian

The Kemp Commission report represents a significant step forward in the long march toward replacing the current federal income tax with a new tax structure that is simple, economically rational and, therefore, consonant with the national interest.

Good Intentions Do Not a Tax System Make
Tax Notes, November 20, 1995
By Ernest S. Christian

The current federal income tax is a national disgrace that ought to be replaced immediately before it can do further harm. It has characteristics that would be condemned in any human personality. It is inexcusably class conscious, it is hypocritical, it is meddlesome, it is overbearing, it is mean and hurtful, it is covetous and, above all, it is downright foolish.

The Tax Restructuring Phenomenon: Analytical Principles and Political Equation
National Tax Journal, September, 1995
By Ernest S. Christian
It is not so easy to construct a tax system that the American people will accept and that will actually be enacted into law. It is even harder to enact a new American tax system that is based on core principles of enduring merit that will continue to serve the nation as political and economic circumstances change in the future.

Integrating Corporate and Shareholder Taxes
Tax Notes, September 17, 1990
By Ernest S. Christian, Jr.
In this article, Mr. Christian sets forth five criteria for evaluating methods for fully integrating the corporate and individual income taxes, and then examines five models of integration in light of these criteria. The article urges that integration be achieved in a manner that is least likely to introduce new distortions and most likely to enhance investment per dollar of revenue loss.

Fundamental Flaws in the Minimum Tax Depreciation Preference
Tax Notes, July 14, 1986
By Ernest S. Christian Jr., George J.Shutzer and Kathleen M. Nilles
In this special report, the authors illustrate the adverse consequences of the depreciation recalculation required under the alternative minimum tax systems contained in the House and Senate tax bills.

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