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WSJ: Romney vs. Obama on Corporate Tax Reform

Authors: Kevin Hassett, and Glenn Hubbard
March 14, 2012

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Kevin Hassett and Glenn Hubbard write that by proposing special breaks for manufacturing, Rick Santorum follows the president's incorrect lead and introduces a significant economic distortion.

The one thing on which our political leaders seem to agree is the need for corporate tax reform. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney unveiled new proposals on the same day last month, with President Obama cutting the top corporate tax rate to 28% and Mr. Romney reducing it to 25%. Rick Santorum would cut the rate to 17.5%, and to zero for manufacturing. Congressional action is bubbling below the surface as well.

This flurry of proposals is a result of increased awareness of how out of step America is with the rest of the world. The U.S. is currently an outlier within the 34-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, with a combined state and local corporate tax rate that is about 15 percentage points higher than the average of our trading partners.

But amid all of the promising rhetoric there is significant cause for concern. Many proposals, particularly those of Messrs. Obama and Santorum, seem to have unlearned many of the lessons of modern economics.

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