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Spooked by the Obvious

The Washington Times

If you suddenly learned the government had reduced taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains, would you save and invest more or less? Most people would say more, because saving and investing would be more profitable with lower tax rates. As obvious as this seems, much of the Washington establishment is shocked the deficit is falling rapidly due to surging tax revenues, despite the "massive" Bush tax cuts.

The Washington establishment was shocked back in the late 1970s when, as a result of the capital-gains rate tax cut, tax revenues went up rather than down. They were shocked again in the mid-1980s when revenues surged despite the "massive" Reagan tax rate cuts. They were again shocked in the early 1990s when new tax revenues did not pour in after the Bush 41 tax rate increase. In the mid-1990s, they were also shocked when the Republican Congress forced President Clinton to cut the capital-gains tax rate, and revenues soared, leading to an unanticipated budget surplus.

Many in the political and bureaucratic class, not only in Washington, but in most world governments, are rather simple-minded on economics. They tend to think if they just increase tax rates they will get more money to spend. They rarely think about the behavioral responses of people and companies to changes in tax rates, and how the sum of these individual behavioral responses will affect the whole economy.

Continue Reading at The Washington Times

Richard Rahn

Richard W. Rahn is an economist, syndicated columnist, and entrepreneur. He was a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute. Currently, he is Chairman of Improbable Success Productions and the Institute for Global Economic Growth. He was the Vice President and Chief Economist of the United States Chamber of Commerce during the Reagan Administration and remains a staunch advocate of supply-side economics, small government, and classical liberalism.