Miller Center

Media Contact: Howard Witt, 434-924-6051

The 2011 Mortimer Caplin Conference on the World Economy

Tax Reform, Deficit Control and Global Competitiveness

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If asked to describe the predominant feature of the international economy over the last two decades in a single word one might easily respond “globalization.”  Globalization—the growing interdependence of countries resulting from increased integration of trade, capital, information and people flows—has brought with it profound changes in standards of living across the world.  If, however, the same person was asked to use a single word to describe their view of the next two decades the response may well be “debt.” 

It is difficult to disagree with the assessment that debt is both a national and global problem.  Governments throughout the world have relied on supranational institutions to bail them out while others continue to stare down the fiscal time-bomb.  The Euro-zone, in particular, remains mired in a debt crisis, with potentially grave consequences threatening global markets.  Everyone—politicians, corporate principals, private actors—agrees that the debt is a problem.  Yet deep disagreements exist about ways to solve it.  Arguments about tax theory, tax fairness, and entitlement programs run squarely into concerns about the role, reach and cost of the federal government.  And policymakers remain unable to reconcile wants and needs on a national scale.

How does globalization intersect with America’s ability to manage its fiscal future?  Do concerns over global competitiveness hurt or hinder efforts directed towards tax reform?  The Fourth Annual Mortimer Caplin Conference on the World Economy, sponsored by the Miller Center, was devoted to an informed and intelligent discussion of these questions.  Keeping with our tradition, this conference brought together senior government officials along with the best thinkers from the academy and the private sector to discuss, deliberate and debate a number of questions related to the tax reform, deficit control and economic competitiveness in the international economy. 


Official Conference Schedule

Thursday, December 8, 2011
National Press Club, Washington D.C.
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1:00PM Introductory Remarks & Panel 1

Downloadable Content

Video: H.264 MP4 | Audio: MP3

The Politics of Fiscal Reform: Implications and Imperatives for 2012

Nearly every policy debate today is assessed through the prism of deficit reduction.  With each party attempting to appeal both to their base and to the ever-expanding pool of independent voters, deficit reduction strategies will be central to the 2012 election.  How will congressional and presidential candidates navigate what has become an increasingly polarized electorate?  What kinds of policy positions will attract electoral support sufficient for victory?  These are the questions that were posed to our distinguished panel of experts on polling, campaigns and elections.


  • Jeanne Cummings, Deputy Government Team Editor, Bloomberg News


  • Sean Trende, Senior Elections Analyst,
  • Sarah Binder, Senior Fellow in Governance Studies, Brookings Institution
  • John Sides, Associate Professor of Political Science, George Washington University
  • John Feehery, President, Quinn Gillespie Communications (QGA), and Director, QGA Government Affairs
  • Bill Schneider, Senior Political Analyst, CNN; Distinguished Senior Fellow & Resident Scholar, Third Way

3:00PM Panel 2

Downloadable Content

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Superpower in Decline or America Resurgent? Prospects for the U.S. in the Global Economy

Depending upon the source, the U.S. economy is either in an extended state of malaise or entering the second stage of a double-dip recession.  Regardless of one’s diagnosis, business leaders and policymakers have been working feverishly on a cure.  While some suggest closing corporate tax loopholes, others support investment in infrastructure; some envision an expansion of the manufacturing base while others see America’s future as a service provider.  This panel, comprised of representatives from the academy and corporate America, discussed prospects for America’s economic future in the rapidly-changing global economy.


  • David Lynch, Senior Economics Writer, Bloomberg News


  • Stephen Moore, Economic writer and policy analyst; member, Wall Street Journal editorial board
  • Darlene Miller, President and CEO, Permac Industries; Member, President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness
  • Mihir A. Desai, Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
  • Eric Solomon, former Assistant Treasury Secretary for Tax Policy; former Assistant Chief Counsel of IRS; Principal at Ernst & Young
  • Donald Marron, Director, Tax Policy Center, Brookings Institution/Urban Institute

6:00PM Keynote Roundtable

Downloadable Content

Video: H.264 MP4 | Audio: MP3

Striking the Balance: Tax Reform, Deficit Reduction, and Global Economic Power

This distinguished panel discussed, among other items, the relationship between taxes, debt, deficits and global competitiveness; the complementarities between corporate and personal income taxes; and the complexities of tax reform in a global economy.  Breaking from the traditional panel format, this group engaged in an open and wide-ranging discussion on the conference topic, with frequent questions from the assembled audience, allowing the panel to wrestle with the many facets of this complex subject.  Participants represented senior positions in government, business, academia, and policy analysis.   


  • Margaret Brennan, Host, Bloomberg TV’s “InBusiness with Margaret Brennan”


  • Maya MacGuineas, President, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget; Director of the Fiscal Policy Program, New America Foundation
  • Lawrence Mishel, President, Economic Policy Institute
  • Mihir A. Desai, Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
  • Steven Rattner, Former Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury and Lead Auto Advisor
  • David Walker, Founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative; former U.S. Comptroller General
  • Paul Kimball, President, Sagebrush Capital


The Miller Center is grateful for the generosity of Mortimer Caplin, whose vision and philanthropy have made it possible to launch and sustain the annual Mortimer Caplin Conference on the World Economy.

Partial underwriting support was also provided by Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered.