Paul Ryan's Roadmap to Inequality

Edward D. Kleinbard

USC Gould School of Law

September 6, 2012

136 Tax Notes 1195 (2012)
USC Law and Economics Research Papers Series No. C12-12
USC Legal Studies Research Papers Series No. 12-18

The purest articulation of Paul Ryan’s fiscal belief system is his 2010 Roadmap for America’s Future. The tax provisions of this extensive proposal would convert the current personal and corporate income taxes into two consumption taxes, and repeal the gift and estate tax.

This report explains how the Roadmap, like Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan, would operate in practice like a large new payroll tax. The Roadmap would directly immunize the highest labor income earners from this tax through a large reduction in the top rate of the Roadmap’s labor earnings tax, compared with current law or policy. Unlike the 9-9-9 Plan the Roadmap further would largely immunize “old” capital from the efficient (if arguably unfair) imposition of consumption tax when that capital was consumed, by providing a write-off of existing depreciable basis. And finally the Roadmap would reduce the tax burdens on the most affluent capital owners further by eliminating the gift and estate tax.

For these reasons, it is not surprising that the Roadmap contemplates an extraordinarily large redistribution of tax burdens from the affluent to middle-class and lower income Americans. For middle-class families, tax burdens would increase on the order of 50 percent. At the same time, the Roadmap’s reprioritization of government spending also would be regressive in its impact. Proponents of the Roadmap or plans like it must explain how any projected increase in economic growth will compensate the majority of Americans for shouldering more tax burdens while receiving smaller government benefits.

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Date posted: August 20, 2012 ; Last revised: November 12, 2013

Suggested Citation

Kleinbard, Edward D., Paul Ryan's Roadmap to Inequality (September 6, 2012). 136 Tax Notes 1195 (2012); USC Law and Economics Research Papers Series No. C12-12; USC Legal Studies Research Papers Series No. 12-18. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2132663

Contact Information

Edward D. Kleinbard (Contact Author)
USC Gould School of Law ( email )
699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

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