Economists: US Could Return to 4% Growth With Major Policy Reforms

By Zachary Leshin | September 4, 2015 | 12:03pm EDT


Stephen Moore, senior economic contributor at FreedomWorks. (Twitter)

( -- The U.S. could return to an annual growth rate of at least 4 percent if major changes are implemented in energy, monetary, and tax policy, according to four economists participating in a panel discussion held Thursday in Washington sponsored by FreedomWorks.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the annual growth rate for 2014 was 2.4 percent.

The last time the U.S. experienced a growth rate above 4 percent was in back in 2000.

But the four economists agreed that the nation could achieve that level of economic growth again by changing its current economic policies.

"Four percent growth should be the goal,” said Stephen Moore, a senior economic contributor at FreedomWorks and co-founder of the newly formed Committee to Unleash Prosperity.

"And by the way, I think we can get 5 percent growth because this growth gap, what it's telling you is that there's pent-up growth. The economy is ready to explode if we have a change in policies."

One policy change that Moore proposed was to lift the oil export ban. The ban was originally imposed by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 as a response to the 1973 oil crisis.

“If we lifted [the export cap] ... we could increase oil and gas production by about $150 billion per year,” said Moore.

David Malpass, president of Encima Global and the former Republican staff director for the congressional Joint Economic Committee, suggested that the Federal Reserve raise interest rates as a way to encourage more interbank lending.

“Think about it from the lenders' side. If you're a lender, why would you want to lend into a zero percent interest rate environment?” asked Malpass.

Another economist argued that tax reform could boost GDP by at least one percent a year.  

“A tax reform plan with the right kind of elements could boost the level of GDP and the rate of GDP growth by an additional one percent a year,” said Scott Hodge, president of the Tax Foundation.

Hodge outlined the elements that he considers would be needed in tax reform package, including full expensing for business investments, lower tax rates for all businesses, lower tax rates on labor, repealing the death tax, and repealing Obamacare taxes on investment income.

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