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Higher taxes, lower spending? What Grover Norquist gets wrong

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Ving, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. Ving

    Ving Well-Known Member VIP

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    Higher taxes, lower spending?


    What Grover Norquist gets wrong


    December 02, 2012|Steve Chapman

    Tax activist Grover Norquist selectively views U.S. budget history. (Jim Watson, Getty-AFP photo)

    It comes as no surprise to hear anti-tax activist Grover Norquist talk about tax cuts, but it does come as a surprise to hear him raise the subject of pink unicorns.

    Pink unicorns are purely imaginary — a trait he says they share[​IMG] with the spending curbs that Republicans hope to get from the administration in exchange for a tax increase. Norquist says Democrats only want to enlarge the government and his GOP allies would be naive to make any deals with them.

    History, he says, vindicates him. Congressional Democrats, he told National Public Radio, "cheated (Ronald) Reagan, OK, and they said we'll cut $3 of spending for every dollar of tax increase. Spending went up, not down. They did the same thing to (George H.W.) Bush a few years later in 1990." Reagan and Bush traded for a pink unicorn and didn't get it.

    In this view, the only way to make politicians behave frugally is to reduce taxes and revenues. "If you raise taxes, they just spend it," he said.

    That is often true. But it's apparent that if you reduce taxes, the politicians will also spend more. Ronald Reagan won big tax cuts, and federal spending rose by more than 20 percent, adjusted for inflation. George W. Bush did the same, and the budget ballooned. If tax increases aren't a sure thing, neither are tax cuts.


    In his review of history, Norquist omits the one time in the past four decades when the budget actually came into balance: the 1990s. Why? Because it badly undermines his case.


    Under Bill Clinton, income tax rates[​IMG] rose. In fact, his critics reviled him for enacting "the biggest tax increase in American history." Yet the tax hike did not open the spending floodgates. In inflation-adjusted terms, federal outlays grew very slowly, and as a share of the economy, they shrank dramatically — to 18.2 percent from 21.4 percent, about what they were during the Eisenhower administration.


    Why did that happen? Not because Clinton was a tightfisted Scrooge eager to dismantle big government, but because congressional Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich, forced him into an agreement to balance the budget, which required constraints on spending.


    Under Clinton, total federal expenditures grew by just 1.5 percent per year, inflation-adjusted — 40 percent less than under Reagan and 70 percent less than under George W. Bush. And did George H.W. Bush really get snookered? During his presidency, spending growth was only slightly higher than under Clinton.


    Most conservatives are of the "starve the beast" school, which says that if you deprive the government of revenue by cutting taxes, it will be forced to shrink. That would be true if the government couldn't spend money it doesn't have. In fact, it does so year in and year out. There is no point cutting off a wayward teen's allowance if he still has your credit card.


    In 2006, a study published by the late economist William Niskanen debunked this theory of spending dynamics. Niskanen, who was President Reagan's chief economist and chairman of the libertarian Cato Institute[​IMG] in Washington, looked at the historical data and found that revenue increases actually curtailed spending growth. Revenue reductions, however, caused it to accelerate — the exact opposite of what Norquist claims.

    University of Alabama political scientist Michael New later took another look at the evidence and confirmed those findings. "Like Niskanen, I find statistically significant evidence that low levels of federal revenues actually stimulate expenditure growth," he wrote in the Cato Journal in 2009.

    It's not hard to see why. Americans are more likely to support a bigger federal budget if they don't have to pay the full cost each year. Tax cuts allow us to get $100 worth of programs and services for only $80. As with any commodity, price discounts increase consumption. Tax increases force us to pay something closer to the real cost of government, which dampens demand for it.

    We fought two wars without raising taxes to pay for them. If Americans had known that invading Iraq was going to cost them real money, right away, they would have said: No, thanks.

    Tax increases don't produce automatic improvement, particularly with a president who shows minimal interest in budget cutting. If Republicans want to curb spending, they will have to insist on clear, enforceable measures to induce greater discipline, and stick to them. That's not the easiest thing to achieve. But unlike a pink unicorn, it's happened before.


    Steve Chapman
    is a member of the Tribune's editorial board and blogs at chicagotribune.com/chapman.


    schapman@tribune.com
    Twitter @SteveChapman13
     
  2. SiriusDawg

    SiriusDawg New Member

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    The stupidity in most right-wing arguments FOR little G is that he does most of his work for PR purposes and for that nice salary he receives rather than him wanting to actually make a difference.

    The idea that we should never, ever, ever raise taxes for any purposes is an idiotic, uneducated, and just generally ignorant way of someone wanting to be "cool" in a political argument.

    Do I want my taxes to be raised often? Hell no. I want them cut as much as possible. But again, the idea that GOP'ers should have a gun put to their head due to a pledge made by a media-whore right-winger with as much of a hypocritical past as any politician....is a joke.
     
  3. BeetTheBoxer

    BeetTheBoxer Active Member

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    drown the libtards in the bathtub and end this nonsense
     
  4. MatthewT

    MatthewT Awaiting The Rapture VIP

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    swearing oaths and making vows lead to doing evil

    rather, have your "yes" mean "yes", and your "no" mean "no"
     
  5. Caster Fly

    Caster Fly New Member Shot Dead

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    Your "faith" only masks your "hate" (poorly), your ego condemns you. :grad:

    Learn, then teach. :coffee:
     
  6. HeinousMark

    HeinousMark Creepy-Ass Cracka VIP

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    Are you attacking the Judicial system, military, Traditional Marriage, etc. now, MT? Oh the shame.....
     
  7. MatthewT

    MatthewT Awaiting The Rapture VIP

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    most of them say "swear or affirm" but yeah, there's some sects that will not serve in the military, or on juries, due to their consciences. also why most married people say "I do"
     

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