Redundant Tax and Spending Programs

54 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2007

See all articles by Nancy C. Staudt

Nancy C. Staudt

Washington University Law School


This article investigates the widespread argument for tax-based welfare reform - a policy reform that calls for the integration of important anti-poverty programs into a single, unified plan. Congress has adopted more than eighty different programs in an effort to assist poor individuals but often these programs work at cross purposes leading to reduced benefits, excessive costs, and greater difficulty in detected and assigning blame for faulty programs. Policy analysts make a strong argument that merging the policies into one coherent program would assure a more fair, efficient, and effective system than the current fragmented approach to distributing government subsidies.

Implicit, but entirely unstated, in the case for integration is an argument for awarding institutional monopolies. Under the current scheme, many different congressional committees and bureaucracies work on the poverty problem; the call for integration would leave the task to the tax-writing committees in Congress and to a single agency, the Internal Revenue Service. This article examines the political roadblocks that exist to this type of policy reform as well as the normative drawbacks of giving small groups of government actors complete control over major federal programs.

Keywords: welfare, tax, decision-making

JEL Classification: D71, D78, H20, I38

Suggested Citation

Staudt, Nancy Christine, Redundant Tax and Spending Programs. Northwestern Law Review, Vol. 100, No. 3, p. 1197, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Nancy Christine Staudt (Contact Author)

Washington University Law School ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

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