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Economic Growth

Federal Debt Maturity in PWBM’s Dynamic OLG Model

According to USAFacts, in 2015, the federal government paid more than $220 billion in interest, which is six percent of the federal budget and more than one percent of GDP. Thus, federal interest payments are a major component of the federal budget and significantly impact on the U.S. economy. The maturity structure of federal debt--the sizes of, due dates of, and interest rates on federal debt--affects federal interest payments. Longer-term debt issued at higher interest rates increases interest payments but “locks in” those payments for a long time. Shorter-term, lower-interest debt lowers interest payments but increases the impact of changes on interest rates on the federal budget as federal debt is refinanced.

Previously, we analyzed the maturity structure of federal debt back to 1953. Below, we describe how PWBM incorporates the maturity structure of federal debt into our dynamic overlapping-generations (OLG) model to make projections of interest paid on the federal debt.

A Response to the White House’s Recent Critique of PWBM’s Tax Analysis

This past Friday, Dr. Kevin Hassett, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, critiqued Penn Wharton Budget Model’s analysis of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” (TCJA), signed into law by President Trump in December 2017. Dr. Hassett delivered his remarks at the 2019 American Economic Association meeting. The AEA meeting is the largest annual event of academic and government economists, held this year in Atlanta, Georgia.

Analyzing the Budgetary and Incentive Effects of Senator Kamala Harris’s Proposed LIFT Act

Senator Kamala Harris recently announced a proposal to establish a new refundable tax credit. This proposal (henceforth referred to as the “LIFT credit”) would be similar in design to the existing Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), providing large payments -- up to $6,000 annually for married filers -- to low- and middle-income households. The LIFT credit would be available to households with either labor earnings or Pell grants, and would offer an option to receive benefit payments monthly rather than yearly. PWBM’s preliminary analysis suggests that on a conventional scoring basis, this policy would cost nearly $3.1 trillion over the ten year budget window (2019-2028), and would substantially change effective marginal tax rates for certain households.

The Economic Boost from the Tax Bill is Temporary

On October 11, 2018, the CNN show, “Quest Means Business” features a heated debate about the recent rate hikes by the Federal Reserve and President Trump’s disapproval of them, in which he cites recent economic growth. Opinion columnist for “The Washington Post”, Catherine Rampell, cites PWBM — alongside the Congressional Budget OfficeInternational Monetary Fund, and Federal Reserve — as finding that the economic boost from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is temporary.

As Predicted TCJA Isn’t Paying For Itself: Confirmed by Figures from the Treasury Department

Jim Tankersley emphasized how recent tax reform will not pay for itself in his New York Times article, "No, Trump’s Tax Cut Isn’t Paying for Itself (at Least Not Yet)." Even though federal revenues increased marginally in 2018, it will not be enough to cover the tax cut. On October 15th, the Treasury Department announced that despite economic growth and low unemployment, the federal budget deficit grew by 17 percent.

Tax Reform 2.0 Projected to Cost $614 Billion Over 10 Years

In Yes, the Tax Cuts Have Cost the U.S. Treasury Money Bloomberg’s Justin Fox describes how tax revenue in 2018 is lower than tax revenue in 2017. Over the first six months of 2018, the cost of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was generally in line with PWBM’s December projections.

Analysis of "Tax Reform 2.0"

Analysis of "Tax Reform 2.0"
  • Recently, the House Ways and Means Committee introduced “Tax Reform 2.0” that includes new incentives to start up a business, enhanced savings accounts and makes permanent the individual tax cuts in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

  • In April of 2018, PWBM anticipated and estimated the effects of the largest piece of this legislation that makes the TCJA individual tax cuts permanent.

  • This brief updates that analysis for the new 10-year budget window and incorporates the rest of the provisions in “Tax Reform 2.0.”

Estimates of TCJA Repatriation of Foreign Earnings on Investment and GDP

An important part of the discussion surrounding the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was the accumulation of untaxed profits in U.S. corporations’ foreign subsidiaries, which were estimated to be as high as $2.8 trillion in 2017. Before 2018, these earnings were generally not subject to U.S. taxes unless they were paid to the U.S. parent corporation as a dividend (“repatriated”), leading many companies to accumulate profits abroad. The TCJA introduced a deemed repatriation provision, which provides a tax “holiday” for foreign earnings by taxing them at a reduced rate of 15.5 percent on cash and eight percent on other assets. Speaker Paul Ryan argued that the TCJA’s tax holiday for foreign dividend payments directly affects the economy because, “money will come back and that will help economic growth.” Indeed, many companies have already committed to significant repatriation amounts, with Apple notably pledging to pay $38 billion in tax on repatriated income.

For Every Gain, a Loss: New IRS Regulations Reduce the Cost of Tax Cuts For Pass-Through Business Owners

The passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act brought with it a new 20 percent deduction for income earned from a pass-through business. The IRS recently released proposed regulations that clarify some of the issues associated with the new deduction. Our model suggests that depending on the effectiveness of the regulations, the overall cost of the deduction could be reduced between $54 and $65 billion over the 10-year budget window.

No Bang for the Bucks - Indexing Capital Gains Doesn’t Lead to Economic Growth

In this blog entry, we use PWBM’s OLG model to explore the dynamic effects of capital gains indexation, which includes the impact of the proposed policy change on economic growth. We project that this policy change will produce no meaningful economic feedback effect over the next decade.

Strong 2018 Q2 Economic Growth Unsustainable

Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell uses Penn Wharton Budget Model’s analysis of tax reform to delve into the implications behind strong second quarter U.S. economic growth in The economy’s great. That doesn’t mean Trumponomics is.

Public Infrastructure: Avoiding the Bridge to Nowhere

This June, PWBM’s First Spring Policy Forum discussed what real world evidence has to say about public infrastructure policy. PWBM’s Jon Huntley looked at how infrastructure plans can be designed to maximize growth while Ernst & Young’s Mike Parker shared a broad picture of the impact of federal spending on infrastructure.

Recent Rise in Gas Prices Offsets Some Households’ Gains from Tax Cuts

As noted in our brief, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced the direct tax liability of individuals by an estimated $1.3 billion, before considering macroeconomic feedback effects, over the period 2018-27. This reduction was achieved through a number of provisions that changed the individual income tax structure. Table 1 presents the average tax cut received by Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) percentile in 2018. The overall median tax cut is $401, with larger cuts going to groups with larger AGI.

The Jobs and Infrastructure Plan for America’s Workers

The Jobs and Infrastructure Plan for America’s Workers
  • Senate Democrats propose spending $1,022 billion on public infrastructure over the next 10 years, financed with taxes on personal income and corporate income.

  • An additional dollar of federal aid could lead state and local governments to increase total infrastructure spending by less than that dollar since state and local governments can often qualify for the new grant money within their existing and planned infrastructure programs. Based on an extensive literature review, we estimate that infrastructure investment across all levels of government increases between $225 billion and $1,039 billion, including the $1,022 billion federal investment.

  • Depending on how much state and local governments spend on infrastructure in response to federal aid, we estimate that the plan changes GDP between -0.1 and 0.1 percent by 2032 relative to no policy change. By 2042, the plan changes GDP between -0.3 and -0.2 percent.

Senator Ted Cruz’s Proposal to Index Capital Gains to Inflation

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) recently introduced a bill titled the “Capital Gains Inflation Relief Act of 2018”. The proposal would let investors adjust asset cost basis for inflation, resulting in a lower tax bill upon realizing capital gains.

Senate GOP Wary of New Tax Cut Sequel

In his article “Senate GOP wary of new tax cut sequel,” Alexander Bolton described Republican reactions to the CBO scoring of the new tax bill and opinions over making the individual tax cuts permanent. He cites projections from Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) in order to demonstrate the likely effects on the national debt from extending the individual tax cuts.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Extending Changes to Individual Taxes

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Extending Changes to Individual Taxes
  • PWBM previously analyzed the effects of the tax bill passed this December. Most of that bill’s tax cuts for individuals (non-businesses) expire at year-end 2025. This brief reports the budgetary and economic effects of indefinitely extending the individual-side tax cuts.

  • By 2027, we project that debt increases between $573 billion and $736 billion. However, GDP is relatively unchanged, although slightly contracts, because this standard 10-year budget window covers only two years of tax cut extensions.

  • By 2040, we project that GDP contracts by 0.6 percent to 0.9 percent relative to current law, where the tax cuts for individuals are set to expire. Debt increases between $5.2 trillion and $6.1 trillion.

The White House's Trade Policies and the Economy

A recent CNBC article by John Harwood, Peter Navarro says Trump’s trade policies are ‘good for the market,’ but economists aren’t buying it, applies two Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) studies on the effects of tax cuts by industry and the probable effects of a trade war. The author analyzes the possibility that recent administration actions increasing protectionist measures would slow economic growth.

Incentives and Corporate Tax Cuts

Justin Wolfers’ New York Times article, "How to Think About Corporate Tax Cuts" analyzes the economic effects of President Trump’s corporate tax cuts and references Kent Smetters of Penn Wharton Budget Model. While the tax bill promises to increase the incentive to invest and gives companies more cash, Smetters argues that in the short run giving more money to corporations helps the owners.

The Effect on Households of Different Methods of Financing a UBI

To evaluate the potential effects of a hypothetical $1.5 trillion Universal Basic Income (UBI) program, PWBM conducts analyses of the program under three different financing policies. Each of the three financing options has different effects on household savings, consumption, and labor decisions, which leads to significantly different effects on the aggregate economy and household welfare.