Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Supply-Side Economics Made Simple

Laffer Curve Posted by Hello

From Stephen Moore, whom you recall as the former president of "The Club for Growth" and now with the Wall Street Journal's editorial board and author of "Bullish on Bush: How the Ownership Society Will Make America Richer" (Madison Books, 2004) in OpinionJournal : "As legend has it, the famous Laffer Curve was first drawn by economist Arthur Laffer in 1974 on a cocktail napkin during a small dinner meeting at the Washington Hotel attended by the late Wall Street Journal editor Robert Bartley and such high-powered policy makers as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. The Laffer Curve helped launch the Reaganomics Revolution here at home and a frenzy of tax-rate cutting around the globe that continues to this day.

The theory is really one of the simplest concepts in economics. Yet its logic continues to elude the class-warfare lobby, whose disbelief is unburdened by the multiple real-life examples that validate its conclusions. The idea is that lowering the tax rate on production, work, investment and risk-taking will spur more of these activities and thereby will often lead to more tax revenue collections for the government rather than less.

Now we have overpowering confirming evidence from the Bush tax cuts of May 2003. The jewel of the Bush economic plan was the reduction in tax rates on dividends from 39.6% to 15% and on capital gains from 20% to 15%. These sharp cuts in the double tax on capital investment were intended to reverse the 2000-01 stock market crash, which had liquidated some $6 trillion in American household wealth, and to inspire a revival in business capital investment, which had also collapsed during the recession. The tax cuts were narrowly enacted despite the usual indignant primal screams from the greed and envy lobby about "tax cuts for the super rich."

Earlier this month the Congressional Budget Office released its latest report on tax revenue collections. The numbers are an eye-popping vindication of the Laffer Curve and the Bush tax cut's real economic value. Federal tax revenues surged in the first eight months of this fiscal year by $187 billion. This represents a 15.4% rise in federal tax receipts over 2004. Individual and corporate income tax receipts have exploded like a cap let off a geyser, up 30% in the two years since the tax cut. Once again, tax rate cuts have created a virtuous chain reaction of higher economic growth, more jobs, higher corporate profits, and finally more tax receipts.

All of this brings us to the crucial policy issue of whether Congress will observe these new economic and revenue data and have the common sense to keep a good thing going by making the Bush tax cuts permanent. Thanks to inane budget rules in Congress the capital gains and dividend tax cuts are currently set to expire in 2008. (When was the last time a spending program in Washington expired?) One thing would seem certain: Raising the tax rates on capital gains and dividends would be a formula for choking off the expansion and reversing the stock market climb. Until now, the Democrats in Congress have in unison sanctimoniously charged that the government can't afford the price tag of making the tax cut permanent. But, of course, all this new fiscal evidence points to precisely the opposite conclusion: that we can't afford not to make the tax cuts permanent.

Whether Mr. Bush's critics' ideological blinders make them capable of being persuaded by facts and evidence is an altogether different issue."

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