TCS Daily

A Course of Action

By Nick Schulz - January 23, 2003 12:00 AM

Editor's note: The National Taxpayers Union recently asked over one hundred distinguished economists, including three Nobel Prize winners, how to get the American economy going again.

An Open Letter to Congress:

The continued sluggishness in the American economy demands action. We, the undersigned economists, urge you to enact a bold tax and budget agenda that includes the following components:

  • Restrain federal spending. Excessive federal spending has a dampening effect on the American economy. Although the post-September 11th world may require some new expenditures to combat terrorism, many of the federal spending increases of the past fifteen months have had nothing to do with terrorism. We urge you to reduce spending, end programs that have outlived their usefulness, and roll back government's share of Gross Domestic Product. This is the right way to stop federal budget deficits and restore budget balance.

  • Make the 2001 tax cut permanent. Uncertainty makes financial markets wobbly. Investors and individual taxpayers will be able to make better decisions on their finances if they have greater confidence about what tax laws they will be facing in coming years. It is imperative for Congress to make the entire 2001 tax cut permanent.

  • Enact further pro-growth tax relief. Even if the 2001 tax cut is made permanent, Americans will still pay more in taxes than they do for food, clothing, shelter, and transportation combined. Congress must take the lead in further reducing the tax burden. We particularly encourage you to enact changes to those tax provisions that are especially harmful to economic growth. One such idea is to eliminate the current double-taxation on corporate dividends. Reforming or ending the individual and corporate Alternative Minimum Tax would be another positive step.

As a rule, government cannot create wealth or expand the economy. Only the private sector can do that. Government can, however, hinder economic growth through excessive taxes, high marginal tax rates, over-regulation, or unnecessary spending. Accordingly, elected leaders should be working to adopt measures that curb or halt government policies that are hurting the economy. The three action items above will help achieve this objective.


Burton A. Abrams, University of Delaware
William R. Allen, University of California, Los Angeles
Ryan C. Amacher, University of Texas, Arlington
Doug Bandow, Cato Institute
John Berthoud, National Taxpayers Union/George Washington University
Phillip J. Bryson, Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University
James Buchanan, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences - 1986
M. Northrup Buechner, St. John's University
Richard C.K. Burdekin, Claremont McKenna College
James L. Butkiewicz, University of Delaware
Henry N. Butler, Chapman University
Lawrence R. Cima, John Carroll University
Kenneth W. Clarkson, University of Miami
Darin Clay, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California
John P. Cochran, Metropolitan State College of Denver
Roy E. Cordato, John Locke Foundation
Jim F. Couch, University of North Alabama
Eleanor D. Craig, University of Delaware
Ronnie H. Davis, Printing Industries of America
A. Edward Day, University of Central Florida
Gregory J. Delemeester, Marietta College
Jeffrey H. Dorfman, University of Georgia
Stephen J. Entin, Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation
Edward W. Erickson, North Carolina State University
Michael G. Erickson, Albertson College
Paul Evans, Ohio State University
Frank Falero, California State University
Susan K. Feigenbaum, University of Missouri, St. Louis
Fred Foldvary, Santa Clara University
William Ford, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
D. C. Fretchling, George Washington University
Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences - 1976
S. D. Garthoff, Ohioans for a Strong Economy
James F. Gatti, School of Business, University of Vermont
David E. R. Gay, University of Arkansas
Charles Goetz, School of Law, University of Virginia
Stephan F. Gohmann, University of Louisville
Richard L. Gordon, The Pennsylvania State University
Scott F. Grannis, Western Asset Management
David L. Hammes, University of Hawaii, Hilo
Dale Heien, University of California, Davis
Brad Hobbs, Florida Gulf Coast University
Daniel Houser, George Mason University
Guido Hülsmann, Ludwig von Mises Institute
Laurence R. Iannaccone, George Mason University
Steve Jackstadt, University of Alaska, Anchorage
Joseph M. Jadlow, Oklahoma State University
Dennis Jansen, University of North Texas
Michael C. Jensen, Harvard Business School
Clifton T. Jones, Stephen F. Austin State University
E. Han Kim, University of Michigan
Roger C. Kormendi, Kormendi/Gardner Partners
Robert Krol, California State University, Northridge
Richard La Near, Missouri State Southern College
Jody W. Lipford, Presbyterian College
Edward J. Lopez, University of North Texas
Donald L. Luskin, Trend Macrolytics, LLC
David Malpass, Bear, Stearns & Company
Michael L. Marlow, California Polytechnic State University
Fred S. McChesney, Northwestern University
Stephen T. Mennemeyer, University of Alabama, Birmingham
Lloyd J. Mercer, University of California, Santa Barbara
John Merrifield
Tracy Miller, Grove City College
James C. Miller, III, Former Director (1985-1988) Office of Management & Budget
Jeffrey Milyo, Harris Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Chicago
Jeffrey Miron, Boston University
John C. Moorhouse, Wake Forest University
Andrew Morriss, Case Western Reserve University
William H. Oakland, Tulane University
Lee E. Ohanian, University of Southern California
Lydia Ortega, San Jose State University
E. C. Pasour, Jr., North Carolina State University
Charles R. Plott, California Institute of Technology
Barry W. Poulson, University of Colorado
Aris Protopapadakis, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California
Jan Prybyla, The Pennsylvania State University
Christine P. Ries, Georgia Institute of Technology
Timothy Roth, University of Texas, El Paso
Charles K. Rowley, George Mason University
John Ryding, Bear, Stearns & Company
Thomas R. Saving, Texas A&M University
D. Eric Schansberg, Indiana University Southeast
Michael A. Schuyler, Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation
Gerald W. Scully, University of Texas, Dallas
Larry J. Sechrest, Sul Ross State University
Howard Segermark, Segermark Associates, Inc.
Carlos Seiglie, Rutgers University
Barry J. Seldon, University of Texas, Dallas
John Semmens, Phoenix College
Alan Shapiro, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California
Stephen Shmanske, California State University, Hayward
William F. Shughart, II, University of Mississippi
Tyler Shumway, University of Michigan
Vernon Smith, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences - 2002
John C. Soper, John Carroll University
Stan Spurlock, Mississippi State University
Clifford F. Thies, Shenandoah University
Robert D. Tollison, University of Mississippi
Leo Troy, Rutgers University
T. Norman Van Cott, Ball State University
Richard Vedder, Ohio University
Robert Vigil, Analysis Group/Economics
Richard E. Wagner, George Mason University
John T. Wenders, University of Idaho
Wayne Winegarden, Economic Solutions, LLC
Gary Wolfram, Hillsdale College
Gene C. Wunder, Washburn University
Paul Zak, Claremont Graduate University
Kate Zhou, University of Hawaii
Benjamin Zycher, Pacific Research Institute
(Note: Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only)

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