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Tax 'Harmful Activities,' Spending, Not Income: Economist
CNBC.com | November 08, 2011 | 07:49 AM EST

Lawmakers in the U.S. should scrap income tax in favor of a tax on household spending in order to get the ailing economy back on track, and could also supplement revenue by taxing “harmful activities,” such as driving in congested city centers, Robert H. Frank, professor of economics at Cornell University told CNBC on Tuesday.

As Democrats and Republicans on the so-called super committee attempt to strike a deal to shrink the U.S. budget deficit by Nov. 23, Republicans are refusing to approve any tax increases to balance the budget.

Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain’s "9-9-9" tax plan — which advocates 9 percent income, corporate and national sales tax rates — has come under attack from Democrats and Republicans alike.

“We’re in a pretty deep political gridlock in the U.S. Anything that the president wants to do, the Republicans in Congress will be reluctant to approve,” Frank said. “No one who has looked at the budget numbers thinks that we can balance the budget going forward without new revenue.”

He added: "The good news though, is that there are a lot of things we could do. There are many things we could tax that should be taxed anyway.”

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