Ralph Benko has a timely piece today at Forbes.com:
According to the report of one Kemp insider, Reagan, on the verge of his presidential campaign, came to seek Kemp’s endorsement. The Reagan campaign’s purpose was to prevent Kemp from entering the race too, splitting the conservative base. Jack Kemp offered his endorsement in return for Reagan’s endorsement of the Kemp-Roth 30% across-the-board tax rate cut.
That policy was controversial among both Republicans and Democrats. It was famously attacked by Reagan’s chief rival for the 1980 presidential nomination, George H.W. Bush, as “voodoo economic policy.” Reagan, on the advice of his then-top advisors, reportedly intended to check Kemp’s box, pocket Kemp’s endorsement, and never mention the tax rate cut again.
Until, that is, President Carter attacked Reagan’s endorsement of Kemp-Roth as irresponsible. Reagan rose to its defense. Carter doubled down. So did Reagan.
And Dan Mitchell for the win!
Our friend, Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania discussed tax reform, including SALT deducations, with John Catsimatidis on The Cats Roundtable. Listen to the discussion here (less than 10 minutes long).
☕ John Tamny reviews a new book by Richard Salsman.
All of this speaks to another area of disagreement with Salsman ahead of the ones that will conclude this review. He correctly notes that the Keynesian “demand-side model was so discredited in the 1970s” in concert with vindication for supply-side economics, which “delivered such positive financial-economic results in the 1980s and 1990s.” There’s no dispute that supply side won precisely because the latter is a tautology: when the tax, regulatory, tariff, and debased money barriers to production are shrunk, booming economic growth is the result. Supply side makes perfect sense, but it’s arguable that supply-siders have become ridiculous to the point that their policies have become self-suffocating. Indeed, supply siders, in their worship of the rising revenue implications of tax cuts, have forgotten that government spending is the biggest tax of all. And in ignoring rising government spending, they’ve allowed the genius of their tax cut, deregulation, free trade, good money policy mix to be neutered. Figure that the posthumous John F. Kennedy tax cuts were great for economic growth, and as a result, gifted Treasury with a revenue surge in 1965. The latter gave Congress the means to for instance introduce Medicare; a program that was initially funded with $3 billion. The problem modernly is that a program which once cost $3 billion is projected to cost $1 trillion by 2025. Taking nothing away from the good of supply side policies, if not met with spending cuts, they’re not nearly as effective as they otherwise would be.
The problem with supply siders isn’t their belief that deficits don’t matter, but it’s a major problem their belief that government spending doesn’t matter. This reviewer wishes Salsman had spent more time on this point. As a deficit realist, Salsman plainly doesn’t like government expanding beyond strict constitutional limits. Ok, but rising federal revenues have enabled just that, not to mention that it’s much easier for governments to issue new debt if incoming tax revenues are abundant.
☕ Dan Mitchell lists nine great reasons to slash the corporate tax rate.
As far as I’m concerned a “tax war” is desirable because that means politicians are fighting each other and every bullet they fire (i.e., every tax they cut) is good news for the global economy.
Now that I’ve shared some good news, I’ll close with potential bad news. I’m worried that the overall tax reform agenda faces a grim future, mostly because Trump won’t address old-age entitlements and also because House GOPers have embraced a misguided border-adjustment tax.
Which is why, when the dust settles, I’ll be happy if all we get a big reduction in the corporate rate.
Dan Mitchell does what Dan Mitchell does with the Laffer Curve: He learns from it, applies lessons elsewhere, and makes us all smarter.
As far as I’m concerned, no sentient human being could look at what happened in the United States in the 1980s and not agree that high tax rates on upper-income taxpayers are foolish and self-destructive.
Not only did the economy grow faster after Reagan lowered rates, but the IRS even collected more revenue (a lot more revenue) because rich people earned and reported so much additional income.
That should be a win-win for all sides, though there are some leftists who hate the rich more than they like additional revenue.
Anyhow, I raise this example because there are politicians today who think it’s a good idea to go back to the punitive tax policy that existed in the 1970s.
☕ Dan Mitchell has a wide-ranging new post this morning:
Both these views are wrong. President John F. Kennedy was right about a rising tide lifting all boats.
And we see that in the incredible data that’s been shared by scholars such as Deirdre McCloskey and Don Boudreaux.
And since we just quoted Kennedy, let’s close with an equally appropriate quote from Winston Churchill, who famously observed that “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”
And the best example of that is in the data comparing the US with Denmark and Sweden. Or the words of Margaret Thatcher.
The moral of the story is that Slovakia has the right approach on taxes while Sweden has the wrong approach. That’s true, whether you want a winning sports team or a winning economy.
Dan Mitchell loves the Laffer Curve, and we love learning when and where he see the Laffer Curve doing its thing.
Journalists are especially susceptible to silly statements when writing about the real-world impact of tax policy.
They don’t realize (or prefer not to acknowledge) that changes in tax rates alter incentives to engage in productive behavior, and this leads to changes in taxable income. Which leads to changes in tax revenue, a relationship known as the Laffer Curve.
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But don’t hold your breath. We have an overseas example of the Laffer Curve, and one of the main lessons is that politicians are willing to sacrifice just about everything in the pursuit of power.
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P.S. I’m not quite as pessimistic about the future of tax policy in the United States. The success of the Reagan tax cuts is a very powerful example and American voters still have a bit of a libertarian streak. I’m not expecting big tax cuts, to be sure, but at least we’re fighting in the United States over how to cut taxes rather than how to raise them.
Larry Kudlow joined the Big John and Ray Show out of Chicago. They mostly talked about health insurance issues, important to hear from a supply-sider on this.