Pelosi Open to a Value-Added Tax

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Here's something you don't have a chance to say every day: Nancy Pelosi and Alan Greenspan agree! They both think a value-added tax -- which is basically a tax on consumption -- is worth a good look to increase government revenues. On Monday, I considered a consumption tax to be a huge political challenge, despite Greenspan's support, but maybe a small VAT has a chance in Congress after all.

Here's the Pelosi exchange on the Charlie Rose show:


Pelosi, appearing on PBS's "The Charlie Rose Show" asserted that "it's fair to look at" the VAT as part of an overhaul of the nation's tax code.

"I would say, Put everything on the table and subject it to the scrutiny that it deserves," Pelosi told Rose when asked if the VAT has any appeal to her.

The VAT is a tax on manufacturers at each stage of production on the amount of value an additional producer adds to a product.

Pelosi argued that the VAT would level the playing field between U.S. and foreign manufacturers, the latter of which do not have pension and healthcare costs included in the price of their goods because their governments provide those services, financed by similar taxes.

"They get a tax off of that and they use that money to pay the healthcare for their own workers," Pelosi said, using the example of auto manufacturers. "So their cars coming into our country don't have a healthcare component cost.

"Somewhere along the way, a value-added tax plays into this. Of course, we want to take down the healthcare cost, that's one part of it," the Speaker added. "But in the scheme of things, I think it's fair look at a value- added tax as well."

Now will we hear from any Republicans on the VAT?

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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