NPR has a story and a link to an even more fascinating report by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. The Foundation asked five think tanks — the center-right American Action Forum (Douglas Holtz-Eakin and C. Boyden Gray, among others) and American Enterprise Institute, the centrist Bipartisan Policy Center, and the left-of-center Center for American Progress and Economic Policy Institute — to come up with policy plans for the next administration and for tackling the national debt.
The results may make you chuckle, or cringe. As NPR put it:
The various solutions offered by the different think tanks reflect their varying ideologies: liberal, conservative, middle of the road. But there were some similarities. Four of the five think tanks suggested the government should spend more in the coming decades, as a share of the economy, than it does now. And all five suggested the government should tax more. [emphasis added]
The Peterson Foundation has AEI in favor of a carbon tax and an increased gas tax. As the Peterson Foundation report puts it: "There are many areas of agreement. All of the groups except AAF recommend raising the gas tax. AEI, CAP, and EPI propose a carbon tax...The American Action Forum and American Enterprise Institute replace the current income tax system with a progressive consumption tax, which effectively exempts all income devoted to saving and investment from taxation. On the individual side, they both establish three tax rates—15 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent. On the corporate side, AEI sets a flat corporate tax rate of 37 percent and AAF sets it at 35 percent. "
Now, one could argue that the Peterson Foundation was skewing the survey by choosing AEI and the American Action Forum rather than, say, the Cato Institute or the Heritage Foundation. AEI and AAF do plenty of fine work and I have a lot of respect for their leaders. Maybe I am missing something. But on some level, one has to wonder, if NPR and the Peterson Foundation are indeed accurately describing the policy positions of the center-right think tanks, do the donor bases of those think tanks really want to support advocating a federal government that taxes and spends more than it does now?