Monday, March 2, 2009

Reagan Fact of the Day

Bruce Bartlett, one of the architects of Reaganomics, reminds us:
According to a recent Treasury Department study, Ronald Reagan proposed the largest peacetime tax increase in American history as part of a budget deal to get the federal deficit under control. The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) of 1982 was signed into law on Sept. 3, and most of its provisions took effect on Jan. 1, 1983.

During debate on TEFRA, many conservatives predicted economic disaster. They argued that raising taxes in the midst of a severe recession was exactly the wrong thing to do. "Every school child knows you don't raise taxes in a recession unless you want to make it worse," The Wall Street Journal's editorial page warned. Said Rep. Newt Gingrich, "I think it will make the economy sicker." The Chamber of Commerce of the U.S. said it had "no doubt that it will curb the economic recovery everyone wants."

Looking at the data, however, it is very hard to see any evidence that TEFRA had a negative effect on growth. Indeed, one could easily make a case that its enactment stimulated growth. As one can see, the economy's growth rates after TEFRA took effect were among the fastest in history....

Reagan signed into law major tax increases every year of his presidency after the first. By the end of his presidency, he took back half of the 1981 tax cut in the form of higher taxes. And it should also be noted that when confronted with a crisis in Social Security in 1983, Reagan endorsed a rescue plan drafted by Alan Greenspan that consisted almost entirely of higher taxes.

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