When does the word “temporary” mean permanent? Clearly, the one means the other when Republicans in Congress seek votes for income-tax cuts. Now that those temporary tax cuts are about to expire, Democrats are accused of favoring increased tax-rates. That sounds like “double-speak” to me, if not outright lying.
We seem to be in an era of politics when facts do not matter much. Belief is most important, and Republicans seem to believe that lower tax-rates will stimulate the economy.
For those who cling to some belief in rational discourse, I would like to rehearse some facts:
Under President Kennedy, the top income-tax rate was reduced to 77%. Under President Nixon, it was reduced to 70%. Under President Reagan, it was reduced to 50% and then to 28%. That resulted in the national debt increasing from $900 billion to $2.8 trillion. Under the first President Bush it was increased to 31%, and under President Clinton it was increased first to 36% and then to 39.6%. At that point, the government began running a surplus.
It seems clear that we have had a grand experiment with the Laffer curve. A top income-tax rate of about 40% is appropriate when we are not at war, as we experienced under President Clinton.
I can critize President Obama, but I give the man credit for sticking by his campaign promises. For example, I do not agree with him about his promise not to allow taxes to increase on families with incomes below $250,000. Those below about $1000,000 should keep their tax-reductions, but the rest of us need to pay more in order to provide the money for the government to stimulate the economy. The argument that the rest of us will invest in the economy has proven false. Instead, we pay down our debts and put our additional money where we think it will be safe.
State and Federal governments have their places in our world, and simple-minded attitudes, such as “starve the beast,” may be appealing to some, but they’re ultimately self-destructive. As we’ve recently experienced, we need forest fires to be extinguished. We need highways to be maintained. We neeed to educate our children. And we need scoff-laws to be arrested. All of us benefit from these activities, and those who have more to lose benefit more. It’s only fair that those of us who have more pay more.