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Event Summary

According to Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), US parents are burdened with a double penalty: they are not only responsible for paying their own taxes, but they must also bear the economic costs of raising children whose taxes will pay for future government benefits.  Recognizing Constitution Day at an AEI event on Tuesday, Sen. Lee unveiled a far-reaching plan to reform the US tax system by making the income-tax system simpler and more efficient. Among other reforms, he advocated a new $2,500 child tax credit to supplement the current child tax credit, to relieve the double penalty on parents, and to bring equality of opportunity to the social and economic institution of the family.

The panelists had mixed opinions of the child tax issue. W. Bradford Wilcox of AEI and Ramesh Ponnuru of AEI and National Review approached Sen. Lee’s child tax credit from social and political perspectives, applauding the senator’s effort to bring considerations of community and family back to the growth-centric Republican platform.

Elaine Maag of the Urban Institute and Alex Brill of AEI, however, were less favorable toward the idea. While Maag praised Sen. Lee’s desire to support families, she expressed a preference for policies that take into account the interaction between work and child rearing and those that target lower-income parents. Brill focused on the budgetary effects of the plan, expressing his fear of potential revenue loss. Overall, panelists commended Sen. Lee’s effort to reform a complicated income-tax system and his consideration of the family in the process.
–Regan Kuchan

Event Description

Join us for an AEI event featuring Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), who will present a new tax reform plan that seeks to restore middle-class opportunity and promote the upward mobility of working families. In addition to lowering rates and eliminating distortive loopholes, Senator Lee’s plan provides parents with relief from the unfair tax treatment they receive for their investment in their children.

Senator Lee’s remarks will be followed by a question-and-answer period and a panel discussion in which experts with varying views will review the plan’s policy implications.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.

Download Audio as MP3


12:45 PM

1:00 PM
Arthur C. Brooks, AEI

Mike Lee, US Senate (R-UT)

1:30 PM
Question-and-Answer Session

1:40 PM
Alex Brill, AEI
Elaine Maag, Urban Institute
Ramesh Ponnuru, AEI and National Review
W. Bradford Wilcox, AEI

Alan D. Viard, AEI

2:30 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Regan Kuchan at [email protected], 202.862.5903.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Alex Brill is a research fellow at AEI, where he studies the impact of tax policy on the US economy as well as the fiscal, economic, and political consequences of tax, budget, health care, retirement security, and trade policies. He also works on health care reform, pharmaceutical spending and drug innovation, and unemployment insurance reform. Brill is the author of a pro-growth proposal to reduce the corporate tax rate to 25 percent and “The Real Tax Burden: More than Dollars and Cents” (AEI Press, 2011), coauthored with Alan D. Viard. He has testified numerous times before Congress on tax policy, labor markets and unemployment insurance, Social Security reform, fiscal stimulus, the manufacturing sector, and biologic drug competition. Before joining AEI, Brill served as the policy director and chief economist of the House Ways and Means Committee. Previously, he served on the staff of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. He has also served on the staff of the president’s fiscal commission and the Republican platform committee.

Arthur C. Brooks is the president of AEI. Until January 1, 2009, he was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University. He is the author of 10 books and many articles on topics ranging from the economics of the arts to applied mathematics. His most recent books include “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise” (Basic Books, 2012), “The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future” (Basic Books, May 2010), “Gross National Happiness” (Basic Books, 2008), “Social Entrepreneurship” (Prentice-Hall, 2008), and “Who Really Cares” (Basic Books, 2006). Before pursuing his work in public policy, Brooks spent 12 years as a professional French hornist with the City Orchestra of Barcelona and other ensembles.

Mike Lee was elected in 2010 as Utah’s 16th senator. Before his election, he spent several years as an attorney with the law firm Sidley & Austin and then served as an assistant US attorney in Salt Lake City. He served the state of Utah as former governor Jon Huntsman’s general counsel and was later clerked for Justice Alito on the Supreme Court, before returning to private practice. He advocates efforts to support constitutionally limited government, fiscal responsibility, individual liberty, and economic prosperity. His signature issue has been the passage of a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.  After writing a book on the subject titled “The Freedom Agenda” (Regenry Publishing, 2011), Senator Lee coauthored an amendment that was cosponsored by the GOP Caucus.  He also wrote the popular Cut, Cap, and Balance legislation that became a popular rallying cry for fiscal conservatives.

Elaine Maag is a senior research associate at the Urban Institute Tax Policy Center. She is an expert in tax policy and spending policy as it relates to low-income families. Her research focuses on various child tax benefits, marginal tax rates for low-income workers, and tax policy as an antipoverty tool. Previously, she worked in the Urban Institute’s Income and Benefits Policy Center and was a Presidential Management Fellow at the Internal Revenue Service and the General Accountability Office.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, where he has covered national politics and public policy for 18 years. Ponnuru is also a columnist for Bloomberg View. A prolific writer, he is the author of a monograph about Japanese industrial policy and a book about American politics and the sanctity of human life. At AEI, Ponnuru examines the future of conservatism, with particular attention to health care, economic policy, and constitutionalism.

Alan D. Viard is a resident scholar at AEI, where he studies federal tax and budget policy. Before joining AEI, Viard was a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and an assistant professor of economics at Ohio State University. He has also been a visiting scholar at the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Tax Analysis, a senior economist at the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, and a staff economist at the Joint Committee on Taxation of the US Congress. While at AEI, Viard has also taught public finance at Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute. Earlier in his career, Viard spent time in Japan as a visiting scholar at Osaka University’s Institute of Social and Economic Research. He is a frequent contributor to AEI’s On the Margin column in Tax Notes and was nominated for Tax Notes’ 2009 Tax Person of the Year. He has also testified before Congress, and his work has been featured in a wide range of publications. Viard is the coauthor of “Progressive Consumption Taxation: The X Tax Revisited” (AEI Press, 2012) and “The Real Tax Burden: Beyond Dollars and Cents” (AEI Press, 2011) and the editor of “Tax Policy Lessons from the 2000s” (AEI Press, 2009).

W. Bradford Wilcox is a visiting scholar at AEI. He is also the director of the National Marriage Project and associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and a member of the James Madison Society at Princeton University. Before coming to the University of Virginia, he held research fellowships at Princeton University, Yale University, and the Brookings Institution. His research focuses on marriage, parenthood, and cohabitation and on the ways that gender, religion, and children influence the quality and stability of American marriages and family life. He has published articles on marriage, cohabitation, parenting, and fatherhood in American Sociological Review, Social Forces, Journal of Marriage and Family, and Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. His research has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, NPR, and many other media outlets.

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