Planet Money Episode 387: The No-Brainer Economic Platform may be four years old, but it's more relevant today than ever-- the show presents a "six plank" platform on which economists from across the political spectrum agree, but the problem is that no presidential candidate will ever espouse these things, as they are political poison; here they are, no particular (or political) order, and I've paraphrased the arguments from Planet Money and added some of my own:
1) get rid of the mortgage interest deduction . . . readers of this blog, who I am guessing are mainly educated, middle class homeowners, will NOT want to hear this one at all, but it's true-- the interest deduction distorts housing prices, it subsidizes mansions and second homes, it encourages people to take risky loans, it doesn't help renters (who are vital when there is a recession because they can move and adjust to changing job markets) and it's generally unfair in its distribution of wealth;
2) reform the tax code . . . eliminate all the loopholes and deductions and, like Thoreau said, simplify, simplify, simplify . . . this would put all the accounting firms out of business, but allow the government to do a much better and more equitable job of collecting taxes;
3) eliminate taxes on corporations . . . progressives hate this one, but it behooves the country to allow corporations to reinvest tax free income into things such as hiring more employees, improving product lines and R&D, instead of hiding it overseas or distributing it as dividends to rich people;
4) decriminalize drugs . . . it's extremely expensive to fight the war on drugs, and it's even more expensive to let underground criminal syndicates collect all the drug revenues . . . plus, it's costly on many levels to keep people in jail for nonviolent drug offenses;
5) stop subsidizing health care . . . health care is not taxed as income for the user, nor is the provider taxed . . . so people who are given health care by their job are incentivized to use as much of it as possible (I have NOT been taking advantage of this, stupidly-- I should be getting acupuncture, going to the podiatrist, getting check-ups and physicals, and generally spending this money that is part of my salary) when there should be various plans, some more expensive, some less expensive, some with higher co-pays;
6) we should stop taxing good things and start taxing things we want to discourage . . . so end the payroll tax and income tax-- because creating jobs and working is good-- and increase taxes on cigarettes and pollution and carbon emissions . . . which is why I'm totally in favor of New Jersey's gas tax increase-- cheers!-- because it might discourage driving, and should help with infrastructure;
sadly, the only candidate who supports several of these measures is Gary Johnson, but he's not into taxing carbon emissions and he doesn't know what's going on in Aleppo . . . and I have an inordinate fondness for Aleppo . . . so I'm not voting for him; anyway, listen to the episode, it's fantastic, especially the fake presidential speeches introducing all these wonderful new reforms, and remember: no one actually wants to fix anything, they just want to act sanctimonious when their candidate trounces the opposition.