Following up on my preceding post, I will here document who has said what.
High officials in the Reagan Administration apparently did subscribe to the Laffer Hypothesis:
• Reagan himself: “…our kind of tax cut will so stimulate the economy that we will actually increase government revenues…” July 7, 1981 speech 1/
• His Secretary of the Treasury, Don Regan, even after events had falsified the proposition to the satisfaction of most observers, wrote of his “very strong opinion that a tax cut would produce more revenue than a tax increase.”2/
Also: “The increase in revenues should be financed not by new and higher taxes, but by lower tax rates that would produce more money for the government by stimulating higher earnings by corporations and workers…” (p.173).
Similarly, high officials during the Bush era have also have been quoted saying that tax cuts, via faster growth, lead to higher tax revenues:
• President George W. Bush : “The best way to get more revenues in the Treasury is not raise taxes, slowing down the economy, it’s cut taxes to create more economic growth. That’s how you get more money into the U.S. Treasury.” — July 24, 2003.
• OMB Director Joshua Bolten, press conference July 2003; & WSJ, Dec. 10, 2003
• Majority Leader Tom DeLay: “We, as a matter of philosophy, understand that when you cut taxes the economy grows, and revenues to the government grow.” NYT, 3/31/04.
• Treasury Secretary John Snow, Congressional testimony, Feb. 7, 2006: “Lower tax rates are good for the economy and a growing economy is good for Treasury receipts.”
• CEA Chair Ed Lazear, press conference 2/12/07, “revenues have come in…higher than we predicted…because the economy has grown at a rate higher than we predicted…[T]he tax cuts…[were] at least in part responsible for making the economy grow.”
Most leading Republican economists who served as chief economic advisers to Presidents Reagan and Bush during their tax cutting frenzies, however, do not subscribe to the Laffer Hypothesis, and did not compromise their beliefs while in office. Three examples:
• Martin Feldstein: “I objected therefore to those supply-siders like Arthur Laffer who argued that a 30 percent across-the-board tax cut would also be self-financing because of the resulting increase in incentives to work.”3/
• Glenn Hubbard: “Although the economy grows in response to tax reductions… it is unlikely to grow so much that lost tax revenue is completely recovered by the higher level of economic activity.”4/
• Greg Mankiw: “Subsequent history failed to confirm Laffer’s conjecture that lower tax rates would raise tax revenue. When Reagan cut taxes after he was elected, the result was less tax revenue, not more.” 5/
1/ Feldstein, American Economic Policy in the 1980s (U. Chicago Press) 1994, p.21.
2/ Regan, For the Record (St. Martin’s Press: New York) 1988, (p.214).
3/ American Economic Policy in the 1980s ( U. Chicago Press) 1994, p.24 .
4/ Economic Report of the President (Government Printing Office) 2003, p.57-58.
5/ Principles of Economics (Dryden) 1998, p. 166.
I thought it would be useful to get all this into the record, since some observers have claimed that Reagan and Bush never subscribed to the Laffer hypothesis, while others have inaccurately accused Feldstein, Hubbard and Mankiw of selling out on this score.