Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Eyal Cohen: The (fiscal) policy entrepreneur
Mirit Eyal-Cohen (Alabama); Academic google), The (fiscal) policy entrepreneur, 86 Law and Contemp. problems __ (2023):
Building entrepreneurship represents a mindset and strategy for using uncertainties to create change in the marketplace. This essay, however, considers entrepreneurship in the context of the political apparatus of government. Called “policy entrepreneurship,” the phenomenon is not about recruiting legislators to pass laws or develop political economic strategy, but rather is practiced by advocating for optimal policy outcomes through the legislative process. It involves making rules and shaping public programs while maintaining flexibility and leveraging political, administrative, and legal forces to advance public benefit agendas.
Taking tax law as an example, this essay offers the actions of Stanley S. Surrey (1910-1984) as an apt illustration of corporate policy. Surrey is remembered as a leading authority on federal tax law who made a mark on the tax world through his fellowship as a Berkeley and Harvard law professor and his public service as Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy at the Treasury Department. . However, few would characterize Surrey as a pioneer or an entrepreneur. Although he produced important ideas that advanced the practice of tax law, some of his schemes were criticized as outdated or of marginal effect.
This essay suggests a different view by examining Surrey writing, practice and politics from a holistic perspective. It explores his core philosophies in their historical context, emphasizing his proactive and pioneering nature. It suggests that Surrey’s creative thinking, methodological approach, and administrative logic were ahead of its time and critical at its historical juncture in shaping the tax system of the future. Stanley Surrey was not only a gifted scholar, an avid policy maker, and a vigilant practitioner. He was also a policy entrepreneur who influenced generations of academics and policy makers. His legacy in fiscal policy remains timeless.
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