How good or bad was the economy before the pandemic hit?

President Donald Trump is fond of boasting that he “built the greatest economy in the history of the world.” It is common for presidents to tout their economic record in the run-up to a reelection bid, but this claim has become a central element of Trump’s case to the American people. Economic management is the one issue, according to numerous public opinion polls, where he runs even with his Democratic rival. The question, then, is how US economic performance has stacked up under the Trump Administration.

The answer, it turns out, is that economic progress actually slowed a bit under…


Most “concerns” are really about protecting the status quo

By Vanessa Williamson and Michael Linden

In response to the growing popularity of recent wealth tax proposals, the New York Times this week published a handwringing analysis of their potential impact on economic growth. Not surprisingly, the very first anti-wealth tax argument comes from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin who cites a discredited “trickle-down” theory that higher taxes on capital will hurt investment. It’s an especially preposterous position given the failure of the recent corporate tax cuts to spur any discernible increase in business investment.

Unfortunately, the scare-mongering does not only come from the usual conservative suspects. Well-known “left-leaning” economists give these specious arguments cover and comfort…


A handful of conservative economists and senior fellows from the Hoover Institute have written an opinion piece in the Washington Post warning about the dangers of debt while simultaneously praising the recently passed tax cuts for rich people and corporations that will increase that very same debt by at least $1.8 trillion over the next ten years. The column is filled with rhetorical sleights of hand, unsupported assertions, and logical leaps. But I’m not here to debunk it.

I’m going to praise it. I am glad they wrote this piece. I am glad they wrote it and I am glad…


Illustrated with Parks and Recreation gifs.

Once upon a time there was a tiny village. In the village there lived 10 families, one of which was very rich.

Now each year every family contributed some of their money to the village fund so that their town could be safe, well-run, and to provide some cushion in hard times. The richest family, being so rich, paid a bit more of their income into the village coffers than did the other families. …


Clinton and Sanders have real policy differences, but they are differences of scale, not of direction or kind.

Recently, a blog post by Benjamin Studebaker has been making the rounds, appearing in my Facebook feed a couple of times (and probably yours, too). In it, he argues that the Democratic primary is not about choosing between, “flavors of popcorn,” but that, in fact, the choice between Senators Clinton and Sanders is really a battle for the soul of the party, with the candidates each representing two, totally distinct approaches to the central economic challenges of our time. There certainly are real and important differences between the two Democratic candidates, but to suggest that those differences amount to two…


Subtext: Why I think you should too.

I will be voting for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic nomination contest. Of course, I won’t get to cast an actual ballot for her until June by which point it’s extremely likely that the question will have already been settled. Nevertheless, I am really looking forward to filling in that little bubble next her name. I want to tell you why.

But before I get into it, I should do a little throat-clearing. First of all, the views expressed here are mine alone. Second, reasonable people are allowed to come to different conclusions about all of this. I don’t actually…


I got into an extended twitter discussion today with economist Dr. Aaron Hedlund about whether or not it was possible to have a flat tax that maintained progressivity while also being revenue neutral. The back and forth was cordial and respectful, and this longer response will maintain that tone. But we came to a bit of a dead-end, and what I want to do here is show, using some basic assumptions and Tax Policy Center data, that it is mathematically impossible to accomplish both of those goals — revenue neutrality and distributional neutrality — with a flat tax.

But first…

Michael Linden

Budget and econ wonk. Pittsburgh native. Father of three. Aspiring to be Leslie Knope (would settle for Ben Wyatt). Personal account. Opinions my own.

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