Benn Steil


A graphical take on geoeconomic issues, with links to the news and expert commentary.

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Campaign 2012"

Obama’s Green Jobs Cost Big Bucks

by Benn Steil and Dinah Walker

President Obama is committed to pursuing a “[renewable-energy] strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs” (January 24, 2012). He highlighted the job point during the October 16 presidential debate: “I expect those new energy sources to be built right here in the United States. That’s going to help [young graduates] get a job.”

Green may be good, but this week’s Geo-Graphic shows that the jobs come at a hefty cost.
Read more »

There’s a $1 Trillion Hole in Romney’s Budget Math

by Benn Steil and Dinah Walker

In last week’s vice-presidential debate, Republican Paul Ryan defended the fiscal prudence of lowering top marginal income tax rates by arguing that it would be accompanied by “forego[ing] about $1.1 trillion in loopholes and deductions . . . deny[ing] those loopholes and deductions to higher-income taxpayers.” The $1.1 trillion he refers to is actually an amalgam of specific “tax expenditures” – benefits distributed through reductions in taxes otherwise owed – identified by the Joint Committee on Taxation.  We break out the largest 10 of these graphically in the figure above. The full list is available here: Read more »

How Ryan Gets His Budget Savings

by Benn Steil and Dinah Walker

In his Path to Prosperity, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan called for $40 trillion in spending over the next 10 years, $7 trillion less than President Obama called for in his 2013 budget.  What accounts for the gap? $1 trillion is from Medicaid and other health programs. Another $1.4 trillion comes from anticipated (wished for?) interest-cost savings ($4.3 trillion compared with $5.7 trillion).  So where does Ryan make his really big cuts? “Other” mandatory spending.  $631 billion was spent on these programs in 2011, though Ryan proposes paring this to only $349 billion by 2018.  Over ten years, Ryan slashes a whopping $3.5 trillion vis-à-vis Obama, targets unspecified, from this large and broad category, which includes political minefields like unemployment compensation, retirement benefits, earned income and child tax credits, food assistance, and veteran benefits.  This sounds a lot like a New Year’s pledge to cut 1,000 calories a day from the category of “meals.” Read more »

Tax Expenditures and the Budget Deficit

by Benn Steil and Dinah Walker

“Tax expenditures” are an opaque form of government spending that operates through the tax code – instead of the government making direct payments to individuals or institutions, tax credits are issued.  In total, they cost the U.S. government about $1.1 trillion annually – roughly equivalent to the country’s enormous budget deficit. Read more »

It’s the Jobs, Stupid

by the Center for Geoeconomic Studies

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence measure has, since its inception in 1967, been a perfect predictor of presidential incumbent election performance.  As shown in the large figure above, every time the measure has averaged under 95 in the election year, the incumbent has lost; over 95, he has won.

Read more »

Buffett Wants to Pay Higher Taxes—on Less Than 1% of His Income

by the Center for Geoeconomic Studies
The U.S. Tax Code: Poorly Designed, but Progressive

In a now-famous August 14, 2011 New York Times op-ed, billionaire Warren Buffett called for tax rates to be raised “immediately on taxable incomes in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains.” The key word here is “taxable.” In Buffett’s case, his taxable income is a mere 0.9% of his income held within Berkshire Hathaway, of which he owns 22%. His share of its 2010 pre-tax income was $4.2 billion dollars, taxes on Read more »