Ex-CBO director calls for higher taxes on the rich

Former Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf on Thursday said the tax code should be changed so that the wealthy pay higher taxes.

“If we make changes to federal spending and taxes, we should make them in ways that impose most of the burden on the affluent, because those are the people who have benefited the most from growth in output and income over the past few decades,” Elmendorf said in a video released Thursday by the left-leaning Bookings Institution, where he is a visiting fellow.

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Elmendorf was CBO director for six years and left the post earlier this year after congressional Republicans decided not to reappoint him.

As CBO director, he explained policy options to Congress without giving his own recommendations.

Now free to express his opinions, Elmendorf has been filmed in a series of videos at Brookings in which he answers questions about the deficit and debt.

“I think as we think about decisions on federal spending and taxes, we need to be very conscious of the fact that many people across much of the income distribution have benefited very little from the growth of overall output and income over the past few decades,” Elmendorf says in the new video. “And that means that when we make changes to federal spending or taxes, we should make those changes in ways that don't impose much of the burden on people of modest means. 

“That means not making big cuts in means-tested programs, and it means not making big across-the-board cuts in benefits, for example for Social Security, because those benefits are especially important for people who don't have a lot of private income and wealth,” he continued.