The 'No New Taxes' Pledge

Research Report

The 'No New Taxes' Pledge

Abstract

This article examines the "no new taxes" pledge that has been signed by President Bush and 258 members of Congress. Although it is intended to restrict the size of government, the authors believe that the pledge probably hinders rather than helps efforts to restore fiscal responsibility. Evidence from trends in aggregate taxes and spending, the success or failure of budget rules, and the voting records of pledge signers casts doubt, the authors assert, on the view that signing the pledge is an effective effort to "starve the beast" or an act of fiscal responsibility. If all of the signers uphold the pledge, it will prove impossible to repeal any part of the 2001, 2002, and 2003 tax cuts before President Bush leaves office, though the legislation could expire as scheduled even if all the signers supported extension, they find. The authors also think that the pledge may also have implications for appropriate budget scoring rules.

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