“A much better option is for the administration to reduce the payroll tax for two years. The reduced labor costs would lead employers to hire more; for employees, the increased take-home pay would boost much-needed economic consumption and advance the still-crucial process of deleveraging households (paying down credit card debt and other legacies of the easy-credit years).
Most policy approaches, including the Obama proposals, have tended to subsidize the demand for capital rather than the demand for labor. That has the problem backward. In the second quarter, capital spending reached an annual growth rate of 25 percent. The argument that increased demand for capital leads to greater demand for labor (i.e., if you buy more machines you need workers to run them) has not held up. Firms are investing in capital goods, equipment and offshore offices that allow them to produce the same amount of goods with less — and lower labor costs.
To avoid a chronic increase in the unemployment rate, we need to subsidize the demand for labor — achieving job creation — rather than making it cheaper to buy capital, as investment and other tax credits would do.
President Obama could fully fund the reduction in payroll tax by allowing the Bush tax cuts for people making more than 250,000 USD a year to expire. Meanwhile, the Bush-era cuts affecting middle- and low-income earners — the vast majority of Americans — would remain in place for the time being.
After two years, when U.S. growth is more robust and the pace of private-sector hiring has picked up, we can afford to phase out the payroll tax cut while maintaining the income tax rates for the rich.”
in The Washington Post
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