Suggested Discussion Outline

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Thomas Chancellor
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Suggested Discussion Outline

Post by Thomas Chancellor »


1. How can we explain that large numbers of people believe they are not
beneficiaries of government programs even though they receive Social Security or
Medicare? Are food stamp recipients or recipients of Social Security disability
unaware? What about students who receive government guaranteed loans?

2. What exactly are tax expenditures and how do they differ from the tax
deductions for business expenses? Which of these items are tax expenditures:
deduction for home mortgage interest; deduction for state income taxes and local
property taxes; deduction for charitable contributions; exemption for interest
on state bonds; deductions for dependent children; maximum tax of 15% on long-term
capital gains; no income tax on contributions to 401k plans or on employer
contributions to defined benefit retirement plans.

3. The author says that most tax expenditures benefit upper income groups more
than middle or lower income groups? How is that, since these deductions are
available to all?

4. Do you agree that using the tax system to deliver government benefits causes
the receipt of government benefits to be hidden from view to many people? Is that
a good thing or not? Would you favor eliminating all tax expenditures from the tax

5. Why do politicians agree to submerge (i.e., hide) the benefits of government
programs rather than claiming credit?

6. During the last 30+ years many government actions have been outsourced to
private industry. E.g., military activities in Iraq such as food preparation,
transportation of supplies, security, and prisoner interrogation. Is this a good

7. If most people are indeed unaware of submerged government programs, what
should be done about it? How will people respond if they become more aware of the
distribution of government benefits? How will you respond?

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