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Phillip Swagel, University of Maryland: Real Reforms for Promoting Prosperity

July 4, 2017

Inequality has become a popular economic and political issue, but what actually solves the problem? University of Maryland economics professor Phillip Swagel says he knows.

In this episode of the weekly Budget & Tax News podcast, research fellow and managing editor Jesse Hathaway is joined by University of Maryland economics professor Phillip Swagel. Swagel and Hathaway discuss a new paper written by Swagel and published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, “Policies to Address Income Inequality and Increase Economic Opportunities for Low-Income Families.”

Inequality has become a popular economic and political issue, Swagel says, but many proposals suggested by lawmakers to minimize economic inequality are unlikely to be effective. In some cases, government help may actually hurt people.

Spreading the wealth around, from high-income earners to low-income earners are likely to hamper growth, in turn limiting our society’s ability to address the problem at all. Swagel says lawmakers should focus on strategies incentivizing work and making hard work pay off for low-income earners, so they want to earn more money and better themselves.

Swagel says lawmakers should focus on policies that get more people into the workforce, increase earnings, and improve economic growth without distorting overall growth. Aiming for these goals would be much more effectively than targeting high-income earners with higher taxes and more wealth redistribution schemes.
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Author
Jesse Hathaway is the managing editor of Budget & Tax News, a publication of The Heartland Institute.
jhathaway@heartland.org @JesseinOH