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基思·亨尼西(Hennessey)的博客

美国前国家经济委员会主任、乔治·布什的首席经济顾问Keith Hennessey

 
 
 

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总统的新的经济方案  

2009-12-24 21:11:11|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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以下是总统的新经济方案,他并不把此称之为刺激方案:

总统的新的经济方案 - hennessey - 基思·亨尼西(Hennessey)的博客

一、             加快短期内就业增长

1、  小型企业

·“以税收优惠鼓励小企业增加、保持雇佣”【详情由国会待定】

·给与小型企业为期一年的零资本利得税率。

·小型企业的开销限制增长到25万美元,此规定延长至一年

·对所有企业,加快“分红”的减值,延长至为期一年

2、  基础建设

·给与基础建设更多的资金:“公路、运输、铁路、航空、水运。”详细的重点事宜列在立法程序上。情况说明书上,他们也强调了宽带网络。

·“支持有价值的、发挥联邦资金作用的基础建设。”我不知道在实践时,这句话究竟指的是什么。

3、  高效节能与清洁能源

·“给与那些采用高效节能商品的消费者折扣优惠”(针对他们的住宅)。

·扩大那些高效节能和清洁能源的生产项目,“额外的联邦资金促使私人投资和工作机会的创造快速生效,比如,在美国给那些针对可再生制造业设备的投资予以工业高效节能投资和税收优惠”。

二、             问题资产救助计划(TARP)和财政纪律

  1、【据称】要重新定位问题资产救助计划(TARP),转向拯救“主体街”(Main Street译注:指平民阶层、小企业等)--这是个忽悠人的玩意儿。“总统采取的……措施稳定了金融体系,减少了超过2000亿美元的问题资产救助计划的成本,为创造工作岗位和降低财政赤字提供了额外的资源。”

  2、“为FY2011预算计划研讨了一系列措施”。

三、长期中创造工作岗位

  ·发放失业救助金。

  ·发放COBRA健康保险补助金。

  ·老年人和退伍军人每人多给250美元。

  ·把更多的资金转移到州政府和地方政府。

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分析

这一揽子政策似乎是由国会议员们大力推动的,他们试图以此满足自己的政治需求,在经济和就业增长虚弱时,必须找点事儿干。它们(这些政策)试图在两个层次上努力:

·试图通过传统的财政刺激措施—增加赤字—以刺激宏观需求:基础建设和清洁能源的开支,加上转移支付。在这方面,它大体上是和二月出台的刺激法律平行的。

·通过税收优惠,零资本利得税,和折旧激励,设法增加资本与劳动的供给,但这只针对小型企业。

我想,政策制定者在面对雇用税收优惠时,内心挣扎最为厉害。我们在布什的任期内看到了几次它(税收抵免),没有一次不是成本大过收益的。鼓励一个小型企业主雇佣一个员工,需要临时减少多少补偿金耗费呢?从我的过分单纯的观点看来,一个企业预期中未来的产品需求才是更为重要的。在宏观水平上,就业增长紧跟着GDP的增长,它也预示着未来的GDP增长。因此,如果你想要使短期内就业增长,你要整明白如何使GDP涨上去。如果未来的GDP增长大致保持不变的话,那么政府就很难快速地增加雇佣人数。这是最有作用、最有效率撬动GDP增长的杠杆,因此就业增长是联邦基金的标准,但是这行不通,于是政策制定者在努力寻找其他杠杆。

他们还会面对一个套取优惠的问题—你解雇我,然后马上再次雇佣我以得到税收优惠。为了解决此一问题,总统提议了一个新的税收优惠措施以雇佣并保持就业雇员。这意味着,给与就业补贴,除了“创造”工作岗位之外,还“拯救”了一些岗位。虽然解决了套取税收优惠的问题,但是加剧了低效率的问题。我想他们将会发现,大多数税收的受惠者将是边际以下的人—不管如何,这些得到补贴的人都会雇佣新人(或者保持以前的雇佣),因此,由此政策产生的边际新雇员相对于花费的美元来说会是很小的。很可能会事倍功半。最后,如果他们只把激励留给小型企业,那么他们将会制造出各种各样的难听、失真的故事。这一目标在政治上是个非常受欢迎的减低预算成本的方法,但是我也乐意看到现在失业的人被大型企业雇佣,就像被小型企业雇佣一样。

这一系列政策提案看起来似乎是总统在给众议院的盟友大开绿灯,他们发展出自己的方案,而只要该条目上包含一点点总统的意思就行了。我期待着,大部分资金最后会用于第三套政策—扩大失业救助,健康保险补贴,老年人退休金,和转移资金到州政府、地方政府。

第一套系列政策包括总统的优先事项,而我希望它能够在未来一到两个月内反应出总统的最初的主旨:小型企业、基础建设,和清洁能源。这些都是国会成员很容易满足的要求。

第二套政策是空洞无物的—总统告诉国会,他们不用非得抵消新增开销也不用为了其他的开支消减(或者税收增加)而减税。他们可以宣称:问题资产救助计划(TARP)的补偿金可以用来减少财政赤字,新提案带来的赤字增长可以被抵消掉。那完全是忽悠人的,但是它可能会使得赤字问题更加模糊不清。我预期会有1500亿美元的新增赤字。

讲话、白宫的早前的信号,和其他的一些渠道,我们可以推断出,这份公告是紧随白宫政策逻辑的产物:

·无论我们要或不要他们这么干,众议院都会批准那些他们认为可以帮助就业增长的政策。

·我们可以在既定的道路上继续前行,试图修改一下,或者把它做完。

·让我们尝试修改一下吧,并因此而得到赞誉。

这种逻辑并不是仅为某个党派所独有的—我们(布什的团队也曾如此)经常面临类似的二难窘境。

奥巴马团队的首要困难是,如何把这些政策和他们的经济主旨整合起来。这一法律很可能使得他们的政治、交流工作更加困难,而不是更容易。

以下是此项法案为奥巴马政府带来的挑战:

·这一系列政策的结构和7870亿刺激方案极为相似。以至于奥巴马的团队很难辩称,此次提案并不仅仅是第二(或者第三第四)此刺激计划。

·因此,它(此次政策的出台)实际上推翻了他们所称的:以前的政策起到作用了(或者至少,那是不足够的)。

·当政策和政治压力变大,逐渐要求消减赤字时,该议案将使得赤字大量增加(大多数人猜测将会有1500亿左右,这是个大数字)。(可以把我这篇文章视为对此次政策一个质疑)

·基础建设的开支和许诺给与州政府的资金十有八九会碰到同样的难题,就像这一整年我们所看到的:一般来说,他们行动缓慢,效率低下,近乎欺骗,而且令人难堪的被泄露出来。

早前总统基于“就业法案”的讲话在众议院是尽人皆知的。参议院忙于健康保险,领导人Reid在12月里则没有富余时间用以关注此次议案。现在我们有的只是一个初具雏形的的奥巴马—众议院民主联盟。我期望参议院的民主党领导人快点回到委员会,带着他们自己的挑战离开国会的共和党人:

·在政治上,他们(参议院民主党领导人)倾向于持反对态度,而且在对抗总统和民主党多数的至今为止的刺激方案时,他们会保持难得的团结一致。但是,有些人会乐意给与小型企业激励,很多人会热衷于基础建设的开支,并试图搞到一份,而几乎所有人都会支持(州政府和地方政府的)转移支付。

·一些共和党人将会要求签署委员会并“改善”提案,要么就是为了政策或者政治上的原因。共和党的领导将要做出决定,是否真的反对此次提案,反驳之后,再给出共和党人的参考意见;或者和民主党的领袖谈判,达到一个妥协的结果。我敢打赌,他们会选择第二个方式。

·我认为他们也将会关注财政赤字的影响,并且争辩道:当赤字的影响变大时,总统(众议院民主党)的提案所带来的经济效益其实是很小的。

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 

我的观点

这些(提议)看起来就像是原来刺激法规的较小版本。它的出现更多的是满足政治性的,立法需要,而非实际的政策所驱动。

·我支持增加失业救助补贴和扩大医疗保险补贴,然而我希望这二者都得到更好的计划部署。

·大体上,我是支持减税的,但是我担心资本利得税的减免将会是2010年年末大幅调高资本税的幌子。那将会是很糟糕的。

·支出计划在近期内对GDP的影响将会是很小的,因此应该考虑如何去达到其他的政策目标。当前的刺激大半是效率低下的,因为政府的支出很缓慢。

·给与老年人额外的250美元,在国会首次通过此政策时(基本上两党都全票通过),这就是一种纵然老年人的行为。它还在纵容着。为什么老年人比其他人(比如说,一个低收入的家庭)更应该得到援助呢?

·“用TARP(问题资产救助计划)的资金帮助平民阶层”,这种说法完全是忽悠人的噱头。如果你将要增加赤字,你最好大声呼吁:“从其他政策会带来短期的经济效益,为此而增加赤字是值得的。”

我建议他们搞一些针对性的法案,只包含失业补助和COBRA条款。因为我认为其他条款所带来的庞大的赤字影响,相对于他们微小的宏观经济效益,是很不值得的。

 

(翻译纠错。读者发现任何翻译错误请发邮件给我们,谢谢:caijingblog#126.com 将#改为@)

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英文原文(地址:http://keithhennessey.com/2009/12/09/another-stimulus/):

The President’s new economic proposal

Posted on December 9th, 2009 by kbh in Blog format, budget, economy, energy, featured, taxes  

总统的新的经济方案 - hennessey - 基思·亨尼西(Hennessey)的博客

Here is the President’s new economic proposal, which he is not calling a stimulus:

I.  Accelerating near-term job growth

  1. Small business
    • “a tax incentive to encourage small businesses to add and keep employees” [details TBD with Congress]
    • one year zero capital gains tax rate for small businesses.
    • one year extension of increased small business expensing limits to $250K.
    • one year(?) extension of accelerated “bonus” depreciation for all businesses.
  2. Infrastructure
    • More money for infrastructure:  “highways, transit, rail, aviation, and water.”  The explicit listing in significant in the legislative process.  In the fact sheet they also emphasize broadband networks.
    • “Support for merit-based infrastructure investment that leverages federal dollars.”  I don’t know what this means in practice.
  3. Energy efficiency & clean energy
    • “Rebates for consumers who make energy efficiency retrofits” [to their homes].
    • Expanding those energy efficiency and clean energy manufacturing programs “for which additional federal dollars will leverage private investment and create jobs quickly, such as industrial energy efficiency investments and tax incentives for investing in renewable manufacturing facilities in the U.S.”

II.  TARP & Fiscal discipline

  1. [Claiming to] redirect TARP savings “to work on Main Street” — This is a gimmick.  “The … steps the President took to stabilize the financial system have reduced the cost of TARP by more than $200 billion, providing additional resources for job creation and for deficit reduction.”
  2. “Exploring a range of steps to take as part of the FY2011 budget process.”

III. Long-term job creation

  • Extending unemployment insurance.
  • Extending the COBRA health insurance subsidy.
  • Providing another $250 payment to seniors and veterans.
  • More funds transferred to state and local governments.

 

Analysis

This package seems driven largely by Members of Congress trying to satisfy their political need to be seen as doing something while the economy and job growth are weak.  It is trying to work on two levels:

  • It’s trying to stimulate macro demand through traditional deficit-increasing fiscal stimulus measures:  infrastructure and clean energy spending, plus all the transfer payments.  In this respect it roughly parallels February’s stimulus law.
  • It’s trying to increase the supply of capital and labor, but to small businesses only, through the hiring tax credit, zero cap gains, and depreciation incentives.

I think policymakers will struggle most with the hiring tax credit.  We looked at it a couple times during the Bush Administration and could not find a version with more benefits than costs.  How much is a temporary reduction in compensation costs going to encourage a small business owner to hire an employee?  In my simplistic view, expected future demand for a firm’s products is far more important.  On a macro level, job growth follows GDP growth, and it anticipates future GDP growth.  Thus, if you want near-term job growth, figure out how to increase GDP growth.  It’s difficult for government to quickly increase the number of people hired, holding the future path of GDP growth roughly constant.  The most effective and efficient policy lever for GDP growth and therefore job growth is the Fed Funds rate, but that’s tapped out, so policymakers are struggling to find other levers.

They will also have a problem with churning — you fire me, then immediately rehire me to get the tax credit.  To address this, the President proposed a new tax credit to hire and keep employees.  This means subsidizing jobs “saved” in addition to those “created.”  This tries to address the churning problem but exacerbates the inefficiency problem.  I think they will find that most of the tax benefit is inframarginal — they will be subsidizing hires (or keepers) that would have occurred anyway, so the marginal number of new hires resulting from this policy will be small relative to the dollars spent.  They will probably get very little bang for the buck.  Finally, they will create all sorts of ugly distortions if they limit the incentive to small businesses.  This targeting is a politically popular way to keep the budgetary cost down, but I am just as happy if people now unemployed get hired by big firms as by small firms.

This package looks like the President is giving a green light to House allies who are developing their own bill, as long as the bill includes a few of the President’s priorities.  I expect the bulk of the money in a final law would be in bucket #3 — the extensions of UI benefits, health insurance subsidies, the senior-pandering checks, and the transfers to state and local governments.

Bucket #1 includes the President’s priorities, and I expect reflects his primary message points over the next month or two:  small business, infrastructure, and clean energy.  These are easy demands for Congress to fulfill.

Bucket #2 is empty — the President is telling Congress they don’t have to offset the new spending and tax relief with other spending cuts or tax increases.  They can claim that TARP repayments reduce the deficit to offset the new proposed deficit increases.  That’s a gimmick, but it may work to cloud the deficit question.  I expect a $150–ish B deficit increase.

Inferring from the speech, prior signals from the White House, and other sources, this announcement looks like the result of the following White House logic:

  • Whether we want them to or not, the House is going to pass something that they can argue will help job growth.
  • We can either get on board and try to shape it, or get run over by it.
  • Let’s try to shape it and take some credit for it.

This logic is not partisan — we (Bush team) were often faced with a similar dilemma.

The primary difficulty for Team Obama will be how they integrate this with their overall economic message.  This law will probably make their policy and communications jobs harder, not easier.

Here are some challenges this bill creates for the Obama White House:

  • The structure of this package is quite similar to the $787 B stimulus.  This makes it hard for Team Obama to argue this is not a second/third/fourth stimulus.
  • It therefore undermines their argument that their prior policies are working (or at least sufficient.)
  • The bill would increase the deficit a lot (most are guessing around $150 B, a big number) when the policy and political pressure is strong and growing for deficit reduction.  (See this article for an example of the policy challenge.)
  • The infrastructure spending and grants to states will in all likelihood face the same challenges we have seen all year:  they are in general slow, inefficient, and prone to fraud and embarrassing revelations.

Prior to the President’s speech, action on a “jobs bill” was most evident in the House.  The Senate is busy with health care, and Leader Reid does not have floor time to devote to this in December.  We now have a rough Obama-House Democrat alliance.  I expect Senate Democratic leaders will soon come on board, leaving Congressional Republicans with their own challenges:

  • They will be politically inclined to oppose it, and have remained remarkably unified in their opposition to the President and Democratic majority’s stimulus proposals so far.  But some will like the small business incentives, many will (semi-secretly) like the infrastructure spending and try to get a piece of it, and nearly all will support the transfer payments.
  • Some Republicans will want to sign on board and “improve” the package, either for policy or political reasons.  Republican leaders will need to decide whether to oppose the package straight up, oppose the package and develop a Republican alternative, or negotiate a compromise with Democratic leaders.  I’ll bet they do the second.
  • I think they will also focus on the deficit impact and argue that the economic benefits of the President/House Democrats proposal are small, while the deficit impact is large.

 

My views

This looks like a smaller version of the original stimulus law.  Its origins are more political and fulfilling a legislative need, than policy-driven.

  • I’m OK with the UI extension and extending the health insurance subsidy, although I wish both were better designed.
  • I generally support tax relief, but I am concerned the targeted capital gains reduction will give some cover to let the broader capital tax rates jump at the end of 2010.  That would be very bad.
  • The spending programs will have little near-term GDP effect, and so should be evaluated in how they meet other policy goals.  They’re largely ineffective as immediate stimulus, because government spending is slow.
  • The $250 check to seniors was pandering the first time Congress passed it (on a broadly bipartisan vote).  It’s still pandering.  Why are seniors more deserving of aid than, say, a low-income working family?
  • The “using TARP dollars to help Main Street” is a transparent gimmick.  If you’re going to increase the deficit, it’s better just to stand up and say the deficit increase is worth the short-term economic benefit you think will result from the other policies.

I suggest they do a targeted bill that contains only the UI and COBRA provisions, because I think the large deficit impact of the other provisions, relative to their small macroeconomic benefit, isn’t worth it.

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