Today’s Brew 4-30-17

Kemp Kasten Bradley Gephardt Tax Reform Act 1986

Former Senator Bill Bradley has an important and timely piece in the Sunday New York Times. As someone who was part of the 1986 Tax Reform Act, he has some good knowledge to share.

When Congress Made Taxes Fairer

Excerpts:

With seven respected committee members backing the bill, Bob Packwood cajoled, threatened and persuaded others on the committee to embrace it, outmaneuvering senators who wanted higher rates and real estate lobbyists eager to protect tax shelters. There were a few perilous moments. We came up short on revenue at one point, increasing the deficit in a supposedly revenue-neutral bill. Initially we missed our agreed income-distribution goals. But in the end, the bill passed committee 20 to 0; and then, after a big battle on I.R.A.s, it passed the Senate 97 to 3. That kind of vote really used to happen.
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The final bill chopped the top rate to 28 percent from 50 percent, closed nearly $100 billion a year in loopholes, taxed labor and capital at the same rate, and gave low-income Americans one of the biggest tax cuts of their lives. Most people got to save more of every dollar they earned, corporations were treated more equally, and the wealthy ended up paying a higher share of total income tax revenue because they’d benefited disproportionately from the loopholes we’d eliminated.
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Over the years, bill after bill has chipped away at the changes we made, and people today once again see unfairness everywhere in the code. Tax liability appears to be totally random. Loopholes cost over $1 trillion, and equal incomes don’t pay equal taxes. The question is the same as in 1986: Can our leaders put principle and country over politics and party, and work together for the common good?

Given the extreme polarization within and between the parties, the odds are against success. Legislating is a very human experience in which trust and mutual respect play critical roles. But 1986 proved that when both are present, big things can get done.


Richmond Times-Dispatch

A. Barton Hinkle of the Richmond Times-Dispatch has some interesting things to say about tax cuts, he takes a swipe at the Laffer curve along the way, that mistake aside, he does make some valid points.

Tax cuts won’t cost you anything, unless you’re Uncle Sam

Excerpts:

Most discussions of tax policy overlook a crucial initial condition: the ownership of the money before the government confiscates it. That is a moral consideration, or at least it ought to be. Pundits go on at great length debating whether the government can afford to let people keep a bit more of their own money. Very few ever ask whether the taxpayer can afford the high cost of government.
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Any discussion of tax policy ought to start with the recognition that taxation entails taking the earnings of some people for the benefit of others. We need some level of taxation; government can’t function without it. But the level should be kept as low as possible.
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This is, indeed, a question about greed. But not in the way it is normally framed. As George Mason University economics professor Donald Boudreaux once said, it’s an odd value set that considers “I want what’s mine” to be selfish and greedy but “I want what’s yours” to be selfless and noble.

Over the next two decades federal spending is set to soar from 20 percent of GDP to 28 percent, and much of that spending growth is on automatic pilot. Nobody ever asks how that spending is going to “pay for itself.” Given that taxes already cost Americans more than food, clothing, and shelter combined, maybe they should.


Larry Kudlow was a guest of John Catsimatidis on The Cat’s Rountable, here is the podcast.

Today’s Brew ☕ 4-28-17

Reason

Reason, as might be expected, takes an unorthodox view of the new tax reform proposal from the Trump Administration. However, along the way there are some interesting facts and figures.

Trump’s Radical Tax Reform Is the Best Antidote for Trumpism

A growing economy will undercut the appeal of his ethno-nationalist politics.

Excerpt:

Cato’s Edward’s notes that the U.S. corporate tax rates are in the “strong Laffer zone.” (The Laffer curve, named after Arthur Laffer, the economist who formulated it, shows that up to a point, tax cuts lead to an increase in revenues by fueling business expansion, broadening the tax base and attracting more foreign investments.) Studies examining OECD countries have shown that corporate tax rates above 26 percent reduce government revenues. The U.S. corporate tax rate is 14 percentage points above that rate, which is why America has a lot of room to cut. Indeed, corporate revenues from Canada’s 15 percent central corporate tax rate right now constitute 2.1 percent of the GDP (which is a bit higher than what it was when those rates were twice as high in the 1980s) and America’s 35 percent rate 1.7 percent of the GDP, estimates Edwards.



Today’s Brew ☕ 4-27-17

☕ Dan Mitchell offers some reaction to the Trump Administration’s tax reform proposal launched yesterday.

Red Ink, Washington Politics, and the Trump Tax Cuts

Excerpts:

By the way, the Wall Street Journal editorialized favorably about the plan this morning, mostly because it reflects the sensible supply-side view that it is good to have lower tax rates on productive behavior.

While the details are sparse and will have to be filled in by Congress, President Trump’s outline resembles the supply-side principles he campaigned on and is an ambitious and necessary economic course correction that would help restore broad-based U.S. prosperity. …Faster growth of 3% a year or more is possible, but it will take better policies, and tax reform is an indispensable lever. Mr. Trump’s modernization would be a huge improvement on the current tax code that would give the economy a big lift, especially on the corporate side. …The Trump principles show the President has made growth his highest priority, and they are a rebuke to the Washington consensus that 1% or 2% growth is the best America can do.




The Supply Side Redux

Excerpt:

I’ve spent countless hours of a long career reporting on that question—tracking the story back to its origins on Arthur Laffer’s napkin in a Washington hotel in 1974; spending hours interviewing the colorful collection of characters who first peddled the idea, including the late Jude Wanniski, the late Robert Bartley, and the indefatigable Jack Kemp; following the conversion of Alan Greenspan, the apostasy of David Stockman, and the embrace by George W. Bush in rebellion against his father. I have read countless papers on both sides of the issue, and seen economic statistics tortured near death in defense of one side or the other.

So it is with some experience and a little weariness that I answer: it depends. Back in 1963 when the top personal tax rate was 91%, it is very likely the Laffer Curve held, and cutting exorbitantly high rates led to more revenue, not less, by increasing incentives to work and invest. It’s also true that for certain taxes that easily can be avoided—like the tax on capital gains (you don’t have to pay if you don’t sell the asset) or the tax on overseas earnings (you don’t have to pay if you don’t bring the money home)—a targeted tax cut can coax out more revenue.

Today’s Brew 4-26-17

Investor's Business Daily

Investor’s Business Daily offers this staff editorial today in anticipation of President Trump’s tax plan specifics coming soon.

Trump’s Corporate Tax Cut: A Supply-Side Shot In The Arm

Excerpt:

One other thing he suggested he would do: A one-time tax on repatriated overseas corporate retained earnings that are now kept in overseas accounts to avoid onerous U.S. taxation.

The estimated amount of these funds is staggering: $2.4 trillion. Even repatriating just two-thirds of that amount at 10% would add close to $160 billion to federal tax revenues.

Taken together, these form the core of an extremely supply-side oriented economic growth program that would create jobs and new incomes.

Nor is this a “tax cut for the rich,” as some have claimed.

As IBD noted last September, the “dirty little secret” of corporate taxes is that corporations don’t actually even pay them. Average Americans — that’s you — do. You pay it through lower wages, lower returns on investments and retirement accounts, and higher prices for the things you buy.



Dan Mitchell weighs in on what we know about President Trump’s tax plan(s):

Unfortunately, Trump’s Good Tax Plan Is Not a Serious Tax Plan


Today’s Brew ☕ 4-24-17

The Hill

Adonis Hoffman writes about Jack Kemp, supply-spiders, and tax reform in this piece for The Hill:

Can a new Jack Kemp step up to help with tax reform?

Excerpts:

The Economic Recovery and Tax Act of 1981 was the successful scion of Senator Bill Roth and Representative Jack Kemp. Kemp – Roth, as it became known, was the centerpiece of tax reform during the Reagan years, and served as a model for how the United States could deliver tax relief to both the business sector and the American people at the same time. It fostered an era of impressive economic growth and prosperity that many pine for today.

But that was long ago in a faraway galaxy. Today’s tax reform mandate, while no less compelling, is far more complicated.
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Of course, Jack Kemp’s brand of statesmanship has been long since absent in the Capitol. He was one of the modern-day leaders who connected the principles of conservatism with caring for the little guy. Nowhere was that more manifest than tax policy, where Kemp went the extra mile to make sure the needs of small businesses were attended. It was a welcomed view among harder-line Reagan Republicans and supply-siders who, up to then, showed little concern for small and minority firms. It should be a welcome view for the businessman-in-chief, as well.

To be sure, the current tax reform debate is a work in process. Before it is over, there will be many fits, starts, twists and turns that will lead – we hope – to a comprehensive, bipartisan tax proposal. We do not know what form that will take, nor who will emerge as the tax reform leader.

Whatever happens along the way, one thing is for sure: if America is to be great again, tax reform must provide a special measure of relief for small and minority business. The future of the nation depends on it.


☕ Hilarious tweet by Dr. John Rutledge. Taxes ALWAYS matter.

Today’s Brew ☕ 4-23-17

 

Larry Kudlow interviewed Art Laffer on his radio on Saturday. The entire show is here, and it’s a great show, but the Laffer interview starts at about 3:35. Enjoy.


Professor Brian Domitrovic hosted a seminar in Texas on Saturday on supply-side history. The readings included John Rutledge and a chapter from Robert Bartley’s The Seven Fat Years. The seminar was a joint project between students from Sam Houston State University and University of St. Thomas.