Which Paper Do You Read? [UPDATED]

Me, I read the Boston Globe and the Wall Street Journal.

The latter I read for serious news and opinion, the former I read for the funnies:

Since the election of Ronald Reagan, supply-side economics — in brief, the belief that lower tax rates, particularly on upper earners, will increase incentives to produce things, resulting in economic growth that benefits everyone — has been the doctrine of the Republican Party. The Wall Street Journal editorial page has become a reflexive cheerleading squad for suppy-sidism, while powerful groups like the Club for Growth and Americans for Tax Reform have policed party ranks for deviations from the approved theology.

The adherence to supply-side theory has come despite, rather than because of, real-world results. Much of the Reagan-era prosperity attributed thereto was really the result of Keynesianism that dared not speak its name. That category includes the big, deficit-financed defense build-up and income tax cuts that boosted consumer spending.

Meanwhile, the last three decades have proved key supply-side tenets crashingly wrong. Chief among them is the assertion that lower marginal income tax rates for upper earners are an essential catalyst to growth. Another is the related warning that tax increases on the well-to-do will inevitably cause economic calamity.

Further, no credible economist still takes seriously the notion that income tax cuts will spark enough growth to pay for themselves. That idea has become so discredited that most GOP candidates no longer make the claim openly, yet its influence is still evident in the unrealistic growth assumptions that undergird GOP economic proposals — and in many conservatives’ refusal to acknowledge how much the Bush-era tax cuts have contributed to our fiscal mess.

Speaking of the Wall Street Journal editorial page:

The country needs an economy that will create more of the “millionaires and billionaires” that Mr. Obama loves to excoriate, not more taxes from those who already exist. Total taxes paid by millionaires fell by almost $100 billion between 2007 and 2010, the last year with statistics available from the Internal Revenue Service. The drop resulted not from too-low tax rates, but from the severe recession and an anemic recovery since 2009 that thinned the ranks of the wealthy.

If Mr. Obama wants the Warren Buffetts and Justin Biebers to shoulder more of the nation’s tax burden, he would do well to pay attention to the history of tax rates. Over the past century, lower rates have shifted the tax burden onto high-income earners and away from the middle class while maintaining the tax code’s progressivity.

President Reagan cut all tax rates across the board in his first term, with the highest rate reduced to 50% from 70%. That was followed a few years later with the 1986 Tax Reform Act, which closed loopholes and lowered the top tax rate to 28%.

The economy soared in the 1980s and the unemployment rate plunged after the mini-depression of 1978-82. Tax rates fell but federal revenues rose to $1.032 trillion in 1990 from $517 billion in 1980.

If you read these two opinions carefully, you’ll see they’re comparing apples and oranges. The Globie says tax cuts don’t provide incentive to produce things; the WSJ guy says tax cuts increase revenue. But since that’s what the “fiscal cliff” argument is about—revenue—why not increase revenue by cutting taxes? Because it will favor millionaires and billionaires, and we can’t have that?

And while the Globie categorically states that tax cuts don’t pay for themselves (and that “no credible economist” still believes that), the WSJ guy provides several examples when they do.

That’s why I read these two papers. One to know how the world works, and one to know how liberals think.

Buck reminds me how this particular liberal thinks:


  1. Buck O'Fama said,

    November 16, 2012 @ 7:19 pm

    Didn’t some network talking head, Charlie Gibson maybe, once ask Obama about this in 2008? It made a bit of a splash on pro-liberty blogs because Gibson made the point that lower tax rates correlate with higher revenue and raising rates brought in much less revenue, and Obama replied “It’s not about revenue, it’s about ‘fairness’”?

    And no, I don’t read newspapers or any printed liberal matter any more. Such things increase global warming and kills trees.

  2. Bloodthirsty Liberal said,

    November 17, 2012 @ 6:22 am

    It was Charlie Gibson, and he did ask that of Obama, and the lOser did indeed answer that way. And this was one of the pro-liberty blogs that ran it. Over and over again.

    So here we go again. See body of main post.

  3. W.J. McCabe said,

    November 17, 2012 @ 10:46 pm

    Obama is not a liberal. He will likely offer up Social Security and Medicare to the Republicans in “fiscal cliff” negotiations.

  4. Bloodthirsty Liberal said,

    November 18, 2012 @ 6:30 am

    I dispute almost every point you make, W. J., but that’s why there’s so much broadband on the net. So that you can say Obama is not a liberal, and that he will “offer up” Social Security and Medicare to Republicans (who “want” them why?), and I can shake my head in disbelief. Just like one columnist can dismiss the notion of tax cuts increasing tax revenues, while another proves that they can (or at least have). Thank you for writing.

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