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Deficits, Debt, and the New Politics of Tax Policy
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Book description

The Constitution grants Congress the power 'to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises'. From the First Congress until today, conflicts over the size, role and taxing power of government have been at the heart of national politics. This book provides a comprehensive historical account of US tax policy that emphasizes the relationship between taxes and other budget components. It explains how wars, changing conceptions of the domestic role of government, and beliefs about deficits and debt have shaped the modern tax system. The contemporary focus of this book is the partisan battle over budget policy that began in the 1960s and triggered the disconnect between taxes and spending that has plagued the budget ever since. With the US government now facing its most serious deficit and debt challenge in the modern era, partisan debate over taxation is almost completely divorced from fiscal realities.


'Ippolito traces how wars, ideas about government size, and attitudes toward deficit finance shaped the US federal tax system. His impressive historic tableau, more descriptive than analytical, covers the Continental Congress (which had no taxing power) to the 2012 elections (when lawmakers lacked the courage to tax). Summing up: recommended. Upper-division undergraduate and graduate students, researchers and faculty.'

J. L. Mikesell Source: Choice

'The decoupling of tax and spending policies, Ippolito persuasively contends, is less a result of inexorable economic or demographic forces than of critical choices made by political elites in the last thirty years of the twentieth century … Ippolito does occasionally return to the main theme of exploring the causes and consequences of the political disconnect between tax and spending policies, but his central focus is on making a compelling empirical case - and at times a subtle, normative one - for why the United States has lost its fiscal discipline and why it ought to try to regain it.'

Ajay K. Mehrotra Source: The Journal of America History

'Dennis S. Ippolito’s Deficits, Debt, and the New Politics of Tax Policy provides a refreshing update and a very important reminder that the United States federal government’s financial situation is both insecure in its substance and perhaps woefully inadequate in its ability to respond to structural problems arising in the budget and tax systems. … The strength of this volume lies in its ability to, in one concise book, integrate the problems, historical and current, in both budgeting and taxation.'

John F. Witte Source: Congress and the Presidency

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