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Jel Classification:D72 

Working Paper
The Politics of Flat Taxes

We study the determination of flat tax systems using a workhorse macroeconomic model of inequality. Our first result is that, despite the multidimensional policy space, equilibrium policies are typically unique (up to a fine grid numerical approximation). The majority voting outcome features (i) zero labor income taxation, (ii) simultaneous use of capital income and consumption taxation, and (iii) generally low transfers. We discuss the role of three factors?the initial heterogeneity in sources of income, the mobility of income and wealth, and the forward-looking aspect of voting?in ...
Working Papers , Paper 14-42R

Working Paper
Political Connections, Allocation of Stimulus Spending, and the Jobs Multiplier

Using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) data, we show that firms lever their political connections to win stimulus grants and that public expenditure channeled through politically connected firms hinders job creation. We build a unique database that links information on campaign contributions, state legislative elections, firm characteristics, and ARRA grant allocation. Using exogenous variation in political connections based on ex-post close elections held before ARRA, we causally show that politically connected firms are 38 percent more likely to secure a grant. Based on an ...
FRB Atlanta Working Paper , Paper 2021-13

Journal Article
Pork-Barrel Politics and Polarization

This article explores how earmarks shape the ideological composition of elected officials in Congress. Relative to the classic median voter theorem, the framework developed here introduces multiple legislative districts and incorporates a desire for local earmarks in the specification of voter preferences. The main theoretical result demonstrates that competition among politicians to ?bring home the bacon? substantially reduces Congressional polarization. Data from after the earmark ban of 2011 provide supporting evidence for this mechanism.
Review , Volume 101 , Issue 1 , Pages 57-68

Working Paper
What drives economic policy uncertainty in the long and short runs? European and U.S. evidence over several decades

Economic policy uncertainty (EPU) has increased markedly in recent years in the U.S. and Europe, and some have posited a link between this phenomenon and subpar economic growth in advanced economies (see Baker, Bloom, and Davis, 2015). But methodological and data concerns have thus far raised doubts about whether EPU contains marginal and exogenous information about other economic phenomena. Our work analyzes the impact on EPU of several possibly endogenous variables, such as inflation and unemployment rates in countries where EPU is measured. We also consider longer-term technological ...
Working Papers , Paper 1615

Working Paper
Expansionary Austerity: Reallocating Credit Amid Fiscal Consolidation

We study the impact of public debt limits on economic growth exploiting the introduction of a Mexican law capping the debt of subnational governments. Despite larger fiscal consolidation, states with higher ex-ante public debt grew substantially faster after the law, albeit at the expense of increased extreme poverty. Credit registry data suggests that the mechanism behind this result is a reduction in crowding out. After the law, banks operating in more indebted states reallocate credit away from local governments and into private firms. The unwinding of crowding out is stronger for riskier ...
International Finance Discussion Papers , Paper 1323

Working Paper
Incumbency Disadvantage in U.S. National Politics: The Role of Policy Inertia and Prospective Voting

We document that postwar U.S. national elections show a strong pattern of incumbency disadvantage": If the presidency has been held by a party for some time, that party tends to lose seats in Congress. We develop a model of partisan politics with policy inertia and prospective voting to explain this finding. Positive and normative implications of the model are explored.
Working Papers , Paper 17-43

Working Paper
Did the 2017 Tax Reform Discriminate against Blue State Voters?

The Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) made significant changes to corporate and personal federal income taxation, including limiting the SALT (state and local property, income and sales taxes) deductibility to $10,000. States with high SALT tend to vote Democratic. This paper estimates the differential effect of the TCJA on red- and blue-state taxpayers and investigates the importance of the SALT limitation to this differential. We calculate the effect of permanent implementation of the TCJA on households using The Fiscal Analyzer: a life-cycle, consumption-smoothing program incorporating ...
FRB Atlanta Working Paper , Paper 2019-7

Working Paper
Does Trade Liberalization with China Influence U.S. Elections?

This paper examines the impact of trade liberalization on U.S. Congressional elections. We find that U.S. counties subject to greater competition from China via a change in U.S. trade policy exhibit relative increases in turnout, the share of votes cast for Democrats and the probability that the county is represented by a Democrat. We find that these changes are consistent with Democrats in office being more likely than Republicans to support legislation limiting import competition or favoring economic assistance.
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2016-039

Working Paper
Politicians Avoid Tax Increases Around Elections

We use new annual data on gasoline taxes and corporate income taxes from U.S. states to analyze whether politicians avoid tax increases in election years. These data contain 3 useful attributes: (1) when state politicians enact tax laws, (2) when state politicians implement tax laws on consumers and firms, and (3) the size of tax changes. Using a pre-analysis research plan that includes regressions of tax rate changes and tax enactment years on time-to-gubernatorial election year indicators, we find that elections decrease the probability of politicians enacting increases in taxes and reduce ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2021-004

Working Paper
Political Connections, Allocation of Stimulus Spending, and the Jobs Multiplier

Using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) data, we show that firms lever their political connections to win stimulus grants and that public expenditure channeled through politically connected firms hinders job creation. We build a unique database that links information on campaign contributions, state legislative elections, firm characteristics, and ARRA grant allocation. Using exogenous variation in political connections based on ex-post close elections held before ARRA, we causally show that politically connected firms are 38 percent more likely to secure a grant. Based on an ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2021-005r1

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