Alice Rivlin Scott J. Ferrell/Getty Images

守护美国政策制定的诚信

发自伯克利——在最近一场加州大学伯克利分校举办的会议中,爱丽丝·里夫林(Alice Rivlin)对美国经济政策制定的未来表示乐观。曾任美联储副主席,克林顿总统管理及预算办公室主任以及国会预算办公室第一任主管的里夫林对这一话题显然是有极大发言权的。事实上,美国现有的“技术官僚”制度——确保政策制定能遵循正确的分析和经验证据——所倚仗最多的人,莫过于里夫林了。

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里夫林在年轻时曾被哈佛大学里塔尔公共管理中心的研究生课程拒绝录取,而拒绝理由是该课程曾在录取“适婚年龄妇女”方面有着“不幸的经历”。

在上述字里行间你几乎可以感受到新英格兰地区清教徒那种所谓夏娃被毒蛇诱惑进而诱惑亚当的虚伪道德说教。当然,当里夫林在1974年帮助创立国会预算办公室时,她实际上也是在采摘智慧之树上的果实,也帮助我们其他人都吃到了果子。我们的事业都因此而得到了促进。

在最近的谈话中,里夫林坚信尽管眼下民粹主义者对专家们大肆抨击,但高质量的政策分析依然会在21世纪的公共领域继续蓬勃发展。她预测经验证据和专家知识仍然会在立法者,总统及其顾问的决策过程中占据重要(就算不是全部)地位。

可以肯定的是,国会预算办公室的影响力在今年达到了顶峰。它的影响力不仅来自于自身在国会议事中的作用,也因为它的评估报告赢得了政府,媒体和公民社会的广泛尊重。它对国会共和党议员立法提案将如何影响美国的评估极为深入,不带党派偏见且满怀真诚。至少到目前为止,似乎里夫林的乐观还是站得住脚的。

不过笔者却对未来依旧存疑。里夫林认为政策制定界普遍认同一系列基本的经济原则,而公共政策辩论中所使用的评估,预测和模型都将构建于这些原则之上。她指出从前经常会有某位知名经济学家将一项简单货币政策规则视为避免萧条和螺旋式通胀的灵丹妙药,但如今已经不存在这种现象了。

截至目前来说事实确实如此。然而在特朗普宣布杰罗姆·鲍威尔(Jerome Powell)当选下一任美联储主席之后就未必了。在此之前斯坦福大学经济学家约翰·泰勒(John Taylor)一直是大热门人选。泰勒因为制定关于央行应当如何设定利率的准则(“泰勒规则”)而闻名于世。他也一直坚守这一规则,尽管缺乏证据显示该规则会比1970年代以来美联储的实际政策决策取得更好的结果。

此外,当特朗普总统任命前美国企业研究所经济学家凯文·哈塞特(Kevin Hassett)领导白宫经济顾问委员会时,许多人都预计哈塞特将成为一位“正常的”顾问委员会主席。有人告诉我们说哈塞特将确保其预测与政策分析界保持一致从而维护好委员会的信誉。而他也明白诸如国会预算办公室,管理及预算办公室,联合税务委员会,税收政策研究中心和预算和政策优先事务研究中心等机构和组织都效忠于事实,而非某些捐助者或政治巨头。

然而上任后的哈塞特却把心思都放在了想方设法否定税收政策研究中心的预测上,尽管该中心今后依然将毫不迟疑地发布对他的政治对手不利的评估报告,正如他当前所遭遇的那样。

根据政策分析人士近乎一致的观点,劳动力所占企业总体税负的份额,以及借助投资增加来挽回的因企业所得税减免造成的政府收入损失的份额都是25%,然而哈塞特手下的经济顾问委员会却认为这两个数字都该是82%。这种说法以及哈塞特最近对税收政策研究中心的攻击令美国前财政部长拉里·萨默斯(Larry Summers)大为震怒,连我都从未在任何公共政策问题上看见他那么生气过。如萨默斯所说,哈塞特的分析是“不诚实,无能和荒谬的集合体”。

本杰明·富兰克林(Benjamin Franklin)曾对美国人民说,美国宪法将为他们构建“一个共和国,但(共和国的存续)则需要你们去守护”。里夫林和她这样的人在其漫长而杰出的职业生涯中为我们构建了一个合理的决策过程——而我们也必须去守护它。

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