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Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality 2019-10-07 19:20:23

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CBO (March 1992): Measuring The Distribution of Income Gains https://delong.typepad.com/cbo-income-gains.pdf: "For several years, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has developed estimates of the distribution of income and federal taxes in response to requests from Committees of the Congress. CBO published the original estimates, and various publications of the Committee on Ways and Means have included more recent estimates along with explanations of the methodology used to calculate them and the staffs descriptions of the patterns they reveal. Policy analysts, commentators, and the media frequently reconfigure, interpret, analyze, and criticize the estimates. In the process, the interpretations and conclusions of these secondary appraisals are sometimes-and incorrectly-attributed

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CBO (March 1992): Measuring The Distribution of Income Gains https://delong.typepad.com/cbo-income-gains.pdf: "For several years, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has developed estimates of the distribution of income and federal taxes in response to requests from Committees of the Congress. CBO published the original estimates, and various publications of the Committee on Ways and Means have included more recent estimates along with explanations of the methodology used to calculate them and the staffs descriptions of the patterns they reveal. Policy analysts, commentators, and the media frequently reconfigure, interpret, analyze, and criticize the estimates. In the process, the interpretations and conclusions of these secondary appraisals are sometimes-and incorrectly-attributed to CBO. A case in point: recent media stories have used CBO statistics on incomes to buttress a contention about the increasing inequality of after-tax incomes among families. For example, The New York Times reported on March 5 that 'The richest 1% of families received 60% of the after-tax income gain' between 1977 and 1989. That figure, which was attributed to both CBO and Professor Paul Krugman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was actually Professor Krugman's reconfiguration of CBO data contained in a December 1991 report issued by the House Committee on Ways and Means. Many of the commentaries that resulted criticized CBO's estimates and methodology or ascribed the conclusions in the original article to CBO. This memorandum seeks to clarify some of the confusion...

See, for example, Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives, Background Material on Family Income and Benefit Changes, Committee Print 102-30 (December 19,1991), pp. 61-81, and Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives, 7997 Green Book Overview of Entitlement Programs, Committee Print 102-9 (May 7, 1991), pp. 1286-1329. CBO discussions of these issues appear in The Changing Distribution of Federal Taxes: 1975-1990 (October 1987); The Changing Distribution of Federal Taxes: A Closer Look at 1980 (July 1988); and testimony of Robert Reischauer before the Committee on the Budget, U.S. House of Representatives, July 17, 1991, and the Committee on Finance, U.S. Senate, November 26, 1991...


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Bradford DeLong
J. Bradford DeLong is Professor of Economics at the University of California at Berkeley and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He was Deputy Assistant US Treasury Secretary during the Clinton Administration, where he was heavily involved in budget and trade negotiations. His role in designing the bailout of Mexico during the 1994 peso crisis placed him at the forefront of Latin America’s transformation into a region of open economies, and cemented his stature as a leading voice in economic-policy debates.

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