Opening up the analysis behind Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax plan

phys.org | 3/18/2019 | Staff
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Senator Elizabeth Warren declared her 2020 presidential bid on a platform based on policies to rebuild the American middle-class. A key part of her campaign will be a progressive wealth tax on the net worth of American households, including a 2% tax on net worth above $50 million, and an additional 1% tax on net worth above $1 billion. UC Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman—the researchers whose analysis forms the basis of the plan—estimate that "75,000 American households (less than 0.1%) would be liable for the wealth tax and that the tax would raise around $2.75 trillion" in the first ten years of its implementation.

Such sweeping policy ideas are regularly the subject of contentious debates, such as those around raising the minimum wage, taxing carbon, or instituting universal healthcare. Arguments in such debates are often split along ideological lines, with opposing sides citing diverging estimates, assumptions, and data. Further, some arguments are too general to be useful, like the critique by the Economist that described Saez and Zucman's analysis as based on assumptions that are "probably too rosy." Disclosing in full the assumptions, data, and methods behind each analysis can reduce the risk of conflating ideology with facts, and allow others to critically assess the merits of the alternative.

Saez - Zucman - Berkeley - Initiative - Transparency

That is why Saez and Zucman teamed up with the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS) to "open up" their analysis, publicly sharing all their data and methods to make it possible for anyone to assess its validity and credibility. Having worked with researchers in academia to tackle the credibility crisis in the social sciences by improving the transparency and reproducibility of research, BITSS is now looking to apply relevant lessons to policy analysis. The approach is called Open Policy Analysis (OPA), where data, code, materials, and...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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