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Public Choice and Public Finance: the Place of 'Tax Reform Advocacy'


  • Geoffrey Brennan


The object of this paper is to examine the political logic of conventional normative tax analysis. The idea is to take various models of political process from within a broad portfolio of 'rational actor political theory' models and to enquire: (a) whether the model in question is compatible with normative policy analysis at all; and (b) whether there is any political logic in the separation of tax and expenditure side concerns, which separation characterises the orthodox approach of public finance. The general conclusion is that there is rather more scope for normative policy analysis of the standard public economics kind than public choice scholars have generally been inclined to admit. This being so there is no reason for either public choice scholars or their public economics counterparts to identify their two projects as ineluctably at war. Whether the separation of tax-side and expenditure-side aspects of budgetary processes is appropriate depends in significant part on the particular model of politics in play and in turn on the institutional arrangements that surround the electoral process.

Suggested Citation

  • Geoffrey Brennan, 1999. "Public Choice and Public Finance: the Place of 'Tax Reform Advocacy'," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 56(1), pages 67-85, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:finarc:urn:sici:0015-2218(199903)56:1_67:pcapft_2.0.tx_2-k

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