Our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast is called “The Tax Man Nudgeth.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript.)
The U.S. tax code is almost universally seen as onerous and overly complicated. There is always talk in Washington about serious reform — Michigan Reps. Dave Camp (R.) and Sander Levin (D.) are currently working on it — but, Washington being Washington, we probably shouldn’t hold our breath.
So in this podcast we decided to take a look at the tax code we’re stuck with for now and see if there are some improvements, however marginal, that are worth thinking about. We start by discussing the “tax gap,” the huge portion of taxes that simply go uncollected for a variety of reasons. We once wrote about a clever man who helped close the gap a bit. In this episode, former White House economist Austan Goolsbee tells us why the government doesn’t try too hard to collect tax on all the cash that sloshes around the economy.
Our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast is called “It’s Not the President, Stupid.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript below.) The gist: it’s time to admit that the U.S. economy doesn’t have a commander-in-chief.
Over the years, we’ve regularly visited the question of how influential the president of the U.S. really is. This segment focuses on the president’s influence over the economy — which, if you believe polling data, will be the central concern for many voters as the 2012 election unfurls.
In this Marketplace segment, you’ll hear from Austan Goolsbee, the University of Chicago economist who has served President Obama as both campaign adviser and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers:
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GOOLSBEE: I think the world vests too much power, certainly in the president, probably in Washington in general for its influence on the economy, because most all of the economy has nothing to do with the government.
We’re working on a new Freakonomics Radio podcast about financial illiteracy, a topic we’ve visited a few times on this blog. Two guests you’ll hear from in the episode have held the same title: chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors.
First up is current chairman Alan Krueger, whom I asked what would improve if Americans were more financially literate:
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KRUEGER: I think first and foremost, we’d probably have greater savings. People are often in a situation where they have to live paycheck to paycheck. That’s something I think we need as a country to work to improve. Most importantly I think we can improve income growth for the broad middle class. But many people who seem to have the wherewithal to save for the future find it difficult to save.
President Barack Obama nominated a new chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors on Monday: Princeton labor economist Alan B. Krueger will replace outgoing chair Austan Goolsbee. Krueger, 50, is known as a strict “empiricist” with a broad range of economic knowledge, having researched topics as diverse as subjective well-being to the relationship between the minimum wage and employment.
His 2007 book, What Makes a Terrorist, explores the economic roots of modern-day terrorism. Which Levitt has blogged about here on several occasions. Krueger was also presented Freakonomics with an award in 2006 at the National Council on Economic Education.
Krueger’s biggest asset in the job will likely be his expertise as a labor economist, as the Obama administration is desperate to reduce unemployment heading into the 2012 election. Read More »
Want to know a bit more about Austan Gooslbee, the newly appointed chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers? Straight from the horse’s mouth, here’s a Q&A we ran with him in July 2009. There are a lot of interesting answers, including several that are perhaps more interesting now than they were then. Read More »
Two weeks ago, we solicited your questions for White House economist Austan Goolsbee. You will find his answers below. Among the highlights: no, the Obama administration is not socialist; and no, Goolsbee will not be trapped into telling you whether he’d buy an American car. Thanks for the good questions and thanks especially to Goolsbee for the interesting answers. Read More »