Tax Reform

The Republican Tax Cuts Were a Political Failure. What Does That Mean for a Party That Agrees on Little Else?

The GOP needs a new theory of government.

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Kevin Lamarque/REUTERS/Newscom

When Republicans passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December of last year, they expected it to be the centerpiece of their midterm campaign. "This was a promise made. This is a promise kept," Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said at a news conference celebrating the bill's passage. "If we can't sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Judging by last week's midterm results, Republicans may need to update their résumés.

The tax law permanently cut corporate tax rates and reduced individual income taxes through the middle of the next decade while increasing the deficit by more than $1 trillion. Republicans initially talked it up, tying it to a wave of corporate bonuses for workers. But the party quickly abandoned that argument in congressional races across the country. Polls found support dwindling, even among Republicans, while the already strong opposition increased among Democrats. A Gallup survey found that a majority of Americans said they saw no increase in their take-home pay.

On election day, voters confirmed their feelings. Not only did they hand control of the House to Democrats, many of whom had run against the law, but exit polls conducted by NBC News showed that 45 percent of voters said the tax law had no impact at all on their household finances, while 22 percent said they had been hurt by it. Just 28 percent said it helped.

There are reasons for these feelings: Although the tax cuts have provided a boost to the economy, they have performed more like a short-term, deficit-financed stimulus than a permanent reorientation toward economic growth and higher wages. Republican claims that the law would prove deficit neutral have not come true. And while it is possible to defend most of the individual components of the tax bill—even Obama administration economists argued for a somewhat lower corporate tax rate—it is more difficult to defend soaring deficits, or the decision to treat individual rate cuts as temporary in order to game congressional budget scoring rules.

Yet even if you believe the law on balance was good, or at least good enough, policy, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that it was an abject failure as a political gambit—that it failed to connect with a majority of Americans. This presents something of a problem for a party that is united by few other issues and has focused on tax cuts to the exclusion of the rest of a domestic policy agenda. What does the party of tax cuts do when tax cuts no longer sell?

For the moment, at least, the answer turns out to be: Push for more tax cuts.

Even as polling shows that voters were largely indifferent to last year's tax bill, Republicans have touted dubious follow-ups. House Republicans passed a second round of tax reductions that made the law's individual rate cuts permanent. As expected, the Senate ignored the bill, but if it passed, it would have increased the original law's already considerable impact on the deficit. President Donald Trump spent the weeks before the election advertising a new middle-class tax cut that was no more real than the fake Trump steaks he touted on the campaign trail. The Republican Party became enthralled by fantasy tax cuts that would never become law, even as the ones they had already passed were leading them to electoral defeat.

The GOP's devotion to tax cutting, imaginary or otherwise, is especially notable given that the midterm elections were largely fought on substantive policy grounds. Although Trump's character and temperament undoubtedly influenced the election, voters were focused on pocketbook issues—jobs, the economy, education, and health care.

Health care, in particular, dominated many races, with Democrats charging that Republicans didn't support Obamacare's pre-existing conditions regulations while GOP candidates insisted that they did. In some cases, their claims were defensible in a narrow technical sense, since most Republicans voted for Obamacare repeal bills that kept some but not all of the health law's pre-existing conditions rules. Even still, their answers were designed to obscure more than to reveal. Republicans obfuscated about their health care ideas because, following the failure of last year's repeal bill, they don't really have any.

Yet as it turned out, health care was what voters cared about. CNN's exit polls found that it was the single most important issue in the election, with 41 percent listing it as their top concern. Health care voters preferred Democrats by a wide margin. It is more than a little ironic that the health law that cost Democrats the House in 2010 probably helped Republicans lose their House majority in 2018.

When the tax law passed year, a senior White House aide contrasted Republicans with Democrats, telling The Daily Beast, "Taxes are our issue. Health care is theirs." Republicans have almost entirely ceded that policy ground.

To become a vital force in American governance, and to compete in elections that revolve around anything other than immigration or support for the president, Republicans will need to develop clear, easy-to-articulate positions on the array of domestic policy issues that matter most to voters—particularly health care, education, and entitlements—and actually talk about them during campaigns, even, perhaps especially, when the temptation to focus on culture war issues arises.

For Republicans, that will probably mean focusing on reforms that make government programs work more efficiently rather than on new benefits and new programs. It will mean abandoning the current GOP conception of deficit-financed tax cuts as costless handouts to voters in favor of an understanding that taxes are a price we pay for government.

But smart white papers and clever talking points alone won't be enough. The GOP needs more than a suite of new policy ideas; it needs a general theory of government—an animating idea about what the state is for, what it should do, and how, exactly, it should fund all of those things.

Because if Republicans don't make an effort, Democrats will. They already are. Not only are the party's likely 2020 presidential contenders rallying around Medicare for All, whatever that turns out to mean, but they are rolling out big-picture plans to expand a slew of benefits and programs. Republicans have united around opposition to these programs, but have yet to figure out what they stand for instead, which amounts to a defense of the status quo.

Since the Reagan administration, the Republican Party has been in the business of selling tax cuts, but the political effectiveness of that approach now appears to be waning. Which means that McConnell may have inadvertently been right: To compete in today's most salient political arguments, Republicans will indeed need to find another line of work.

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  1. Remember, the path to prosperity is paved with higher TAXEZ !

    1. Higher taxes and good government that acts for the public’s own good when the public can’t. Its the Libertarian way.

      1. I think I got it, “Tax cuts are bad policy, socialized medicine is a vote getter”.
        Thanks neo-Reason! It’s all so clear to me now.

        1. Everyone has a right to the freedom of forcing someone else to pay for their healthcare!!

          1. I had to look at the comments just to see which simpleton will make the “force someone else to pay for healthcare” comment first. You win today John! Congratulations for distilling a complex subject into just a few words!

            1. How is that not the system that is advocated for?

            2. Dirk is so smart he knows Medicare for All is a complex subject, so he must also know where another $3,260,000,000,000 per year (according to a Mercatus study earlier this year) to pay for it is coming from, which nearly doubles the already bloated federal budget of roughly $4,000,000,000,000.

              Anyone with even a 6th grader’s grasp of arithmetic knows Medicare for All is not a serious policy option, but we don’t often get a 1st grader’s perspective, so Dirk, please tell us about all the fruit waiting to be harvested from money trees in libertopia.

            3. Dirk is so smart he knows Medicare for All is a complex subject, so he must also know where another $3,260,000,000,000 per year (according to a Mercatus study earlier this year) to pay for it is coming from, which nearly doubles the already bloated federal budget of roughly $4,000,000,000,000.

              Anyone with even a 6th grader’s grasp of arithmetic knows Medicare for All is not a serious policy option, but we don’t often get a 1st grader’s perspective, so Dirk, please tell us about all the fruit waiting to be harvested from money trees in libertopia.

            4. Dirk is so smart he knows Medicare for All is a complex subject, so he must also know where another $3,260,000,000,000 per year (according to a Mercatus study earlier this year) to pay for it is coming from, which nearly doubles the already bloated federal budget of roughly $4,000,000,000,000.

              Anyone with even a 6th grader’s grasp of arithmetic knows Medicare for All is not a serious policy option, but we don’t often get a 1st grader’s perspective, so Dirk, please tell us about all the fruit waiting to be harvested from money trees in libertopia.

            5. Dirk is so smart he knows Medicare for All is a complex subject, so he must also know where another $3,260,000,000,000 per year (according to a Mercatus study earlier this year) to pay for it is coming from, which nearly doubles the already bloated federal budget of roughly $4,000,000,000,000.

              Anyone with even a 6th grader’s grasp of arithmetic knows Medicare for All is not a serious policy option, but we don’t often get a 1st grader’s perspective, so Dirk, please tell us about all the fruit waiting to be harvested from money trees in libertopia.

            6. Dirk is so smart he knows Medicare for All is a complex subject, so he must also know where another $3,260,000,000,000 per year (according to a Mercatus study earlier this year) to pay for it is coming from, which nearly doubles the already bloated federal budget of roughly $4,000,000,000,000.

              Anyone with even a 6th grader’s grasp of arithmetic knows Medicare for All is not a serious policy option, but we don’t often get a 1st grader’s perspective, so Dirk, please tell us about all the fruit waiting to be harvested from money trees in libertopia.

              1. msimmons, why are you spamming?

              2. msimmons, why are you spamming?

        2. You are correct and that is the problem. The rubes that believe someone else will pay for it until they all find out they are all that someone else.

          1. Wasn’t there a Twilight Zone episode about that?

            “Push this button, and you’ll get free health care. Someone you don’t know will pay for it…”

    2. I’m not sure how tax cuts, any tax cuts, are bad. Interesting article to say the least.

      1. Nor I. I fully understand how bad rampant spending is

      2. I *think* the author’s point is that they were politically bad for the Republicans, based on their performance in the midterm elections. But they did better-than-average for the party of the president in first midterm. About the same as Reagan, so I’m not sure how that squares with being a “failure” unless one considers Washington to be in a continual state of failure. And I’m old enough to remember that the media spun Reagan’s midterm losses as some kind of referendum on tax cuts too. The big difference there is that the Democrats already had control of the house under Reagan and his first midterm losses just handed a slightly higher percentage of the house to the D’s rather than a flip of control.

        1. “…so I’m not sure how that squares with being a “failure”…”

          It’s straw-grasping by a victim of TDS.

        2. “…so I’m not sure how that squares with being a “failure”…”

          It’s straw-grasping by a victim of TDS.

  2. For Republicans, that will probably mean focusing on reforms that make government programs work more efficiently rather than on new benefits and new programs. It will mean abandoning the current GOP conception of deficit-financed tax cuts as costless handouts to voters in favor of an understanding that taxes are a price we pay for government.

    So the way forward is for the GOP to become the tax collector for a more efficient welfare state. Suderman bringing the radical Libertarian ideas ths morning.

    1. Suderman is not a Libertarian. I will say this is one of the best articles he’s written. He does make good points. However, with Suderman, I think it’s probably the stuck clock syndrome. The conditions just happened to line up with his internal biases.

      Can we get Suderman’s wife as a contributer? Megan McArdle is far more Libertarian and frankly quite a bit smarter.

      1. McArdle is one of the most shallow dingbats in a field of shallow dingbats. Sadly, you are, however, correct that she is quite a bit smarter than her husband.

      2. Megan McArdle is Suderman’s wife!? Is this a Carville/Matalin thing?
        Wow, she really needs to sit him down and have a long chat with him. Maybe ghost an occasional piece too.

        1. McArdle is over six feet tall. She is a real Amazon. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I imagine that when she talks Suderman listens.

    2. “The GOP needs more than a suite of new policy ideas; it needs a general theory of government.”

      It has one – it’s clearly articulated in the Constitution, that quaint relic that progressives use as a doormat.

      The problem is selling the lowest common denominator on less government when they’ve been lobotomized into accepting that what they really need to make life better and better and better is more and more and more government. It’s tough selling sheep the idea that their lives will ultimately be better when they have more freedom and less intrusive government. The sheep have been taught to fear freedom by the likes of Suderman, who must be a ghost writer for half the talking heads at MSNBC.

      Ten years ago I thanked Reason for arguing the benefits of less government as the best wat to preserve individual liberty. Now it’s circling the drain in competing with the likes of Slate, Salon and The Atlantic. Is the statist virus so advanced that all free minds eventually succumb?

      Apparently, “The truth is that men are tired of liberty.”
      ? Benito Mussolini

  3. Now they need to finish the other half — cut a few trillion dollars out of the budget. They could start with their salaries.

    1. I’m confident they’re working diligently on that part even now.

      1. you could say they ARE working on it. Every day the clock ticks further towards massive spending cuts and there’s no getting off that train at this point.

        There will NEVER EVER be the political will in this country to tax ourselves at 80% or whatever it will be to maintain debt servicing and the same spending levels for everything else. Cuts are coming.

        1. I don’t think so. I think they will just keep borrowing and printing money forever.

        2. There may not be the will to tax ourselves at 80% or whatever. But there is infinite willingness to sell our children into debt-slavery.

          So until the kids start killing off their parents and grandparents in their own self-interest, the game can continue forever.

    2. The GOP has had control of all branches of the federal government for 2 years. If they couldn’t pass spending cuts, it’s only because they didn’t want to. The truth is, the GOP only cares about deficits when Democrats are in control, and vice versa. When they have the power, the GOP spends every bit as much as the Democrats. The difference is that the GOP puts more effort into the “I hate deficits” act when Democrats are in power than Democrats do when Republicans are in power.

  4. “45 percent of voters said the tax law had no impact at all on their household finances, while 22 percent said they had been hurt by it. Just 28 percent said it helped.”

    Seems a bit strong to call it a failure then. In fact, seems flat wrong.

    1. It was a failure in the sense that it failed to limit the losses in the US House.

      1. That seems to be an assertion supported by very little concrete information.

        Ken has bludgeoned us with historical results for months, and based on that, the R’s didn’t do very badly.

      2. The Republicans lost about the average number of seats that a party in power loses in a midterm election. Can you really say it didn’t limit the losses? I don’t see how. To say that, you have to believe that the Republicans would have done better had they not passed the tax cuts. And I find that very difficult to believe and see no evidence why it is true. The tax cuts were the one big accomplishment of the GOP House. I think it is fair to say that they lost less than the usual number of seats for a party in power because of them not in spite of them.

        1. ” Can you really say it didn’t limit the losses?”

          Oh you can make the case that Republicans would have done worse than normal if they didn’t do the tax cuts. But it’s not a clear cut issue.

          I’m sure if Republicans had done better than usual, they would be pointing to the Tax cuts as the reason for it. Since they didn’t, I think the default assumption is that they weren’t a primary deciding factor.

        2. Why the House numbers looked so bad: Trump fired up the base…it was just the wrong base.

      3. Tax cuts were done to spur the economy and lower regulatory burdens, not to keep the house. We shouldn’t pass policy based on the stupidity of someone who answers polls.

      4. Most of the House losses were RINOs anyway.

        Looks like the Democrats will never get enough House seats to match GOP seats currently held in 115th Congress at 235.

        If Democrats dont steal another Senate seat, the GOP gained 2 seats.

        The Democratic Party gained some Governor positions.

        The GOP looks to have 34 state Legislatures which is enough to hold an Article V Constitutional Convention and amend the Constitution. 38 states need to ratify the Amendments.

        1. I remember your predictions.

        2. Be careful what you wish for. A Constitution written in 2019 will look very different from the one written in 1787.

    2. How much of that is because R tax cuts are taken for granted?

      I’m betting not passing them would have played a much bigger role than passing them did.

      1. That’s a fair point.

    3. It has to be considered that, since it was a Republican tax cut, a substantial part of the electorate are going to say it was a failure regardless of any effects it actually had. I’d be a lot more interested in an evaluation of the effects based on more objective numbers than an opinion poll, but that will have to wait until people file their taxes.

      1. Or they just look at the trillion+ it added to the deficit and consider it a failure. Especially since the Republicans touted how “it would pay for itself.”

    4. How can 22% of people say that paying less in taxes HURT them?

      1. Because that group wasn’t paying anything in the first place, so from their point of view, it means less ‘free’ stuff.

      2. I will be paying more. Not a lot more, but a little more. And I live in the Midwest, not NY or CA. My income (low-mid 6 figures) is in a sweet spot where the loss of deductions aren’t entirely cancelled out by the reduction in rates.

        I don’t begrudge people getting a tax cut, but it sucks that I didn’t get one too.

    5. 45 percent of voters are lying.

      Even if it’s an extra $30 a month, that has an impact on your household finances. That’s an extra credit card payment or letting yourself splurge and take your kids to Chuck E Cheese once a month.

      1. You dramatically overestimate how closely most people manage their finances. Most people won’t even notice the extra $30/month.

      2. Seems well worth another 1 trillion in debt to hand to our kids right?

        “Here you go- Chuck E Cheese meal but hey, you’re gonna pay 1 trillion and interest on it later.”

  5. Citizens! In all times, two political systems have been in existence, and each may be maintained by good reasons. According to one of them, Government ought to do much, but then it ought to take much. According to the other, this two-fold activity ought to be little felt. We have to choose between these two systems. But as regards the third system, which partakes of both the others, and which consists in exacting everything from Government, without giving it anything, it is chimerical, absurd, childish, contradictory, and dangerous. Those who parade it, for the sake of the pleasure of accusing all governments of weakness, and thus exposing them to your attacks, are only flattering and deceiving you, while they are deceiving themselves.

    Bastiat

    Seems the Republicans took that third system as an instruction, not a warning.

  6. Almost all republican ideas are failures for the same reason
    This is not limited to tax cuts

  7. I question one part of your analysis, the focus on the deficit.

    I don’t disagree with you about fears over the deficit, but in your article which focuses on the political costs of the tax breaks, it seems to imply that the deficit is the issue people took with the tax breaks.

    But voting for Democrats, and if Medicare For All proves to be an effective rallying point, is not indicative or any particular belief in the deficit.

    It’s a classic problem I see with surveys. They ask people how much they care about the Deficit. People tend to say they care a lot. There is agreement here. What there is no agreement on is what should be actually done to deal with the Deficit. On average, fears of the Deficit fall below people’s willingness to actually cut back on anything, or pay more taxes (I’ll note Democrats are not particularly running on raising taxes back either).

    So, just random observation.

    1. Everyone wants to cut government. Just not the part that benefits themselves, their friends, or their family. And since just about everyone benefits in some way from government spending, nothing can be cut without pissing someone off. That makes it a political impossibility.

    2. Almost everyone wants to raise taxes as well. On people other than themselves of course.

    3. It is not a random observation at all. It is pointing out that caring about an issue and voting based on an issue are two different things. Everyone cares about the deficit but few people care enough to vote based on that alone.

    4. There are two paragraphs about the non- or negative-impact of the tax cuts on people’s take-home pay before the deficit is ever mentioned.

      1. “There are two paragraphs about the non- or negative-impact of the tax cuts ”

        I am not remotely surprised that you intentionally ignore that those very same paragraphs show the tax cuts had more of a positive than negative impact.

        1. Yes, and it’s very possible that the tax cuts were not enough for people to care. But there is another implicit argument made throughout that the deficit is of high importance. This has been made repeatedly here before, and my point is that I question how much it actually matters to people.

          That is, the Republican’s tax cut didn’t do enough for people is the issue. It’s a non-issue rather than a negative one.

    5. The Democrats ran on raising taxes on the 1%, and on spending those new revenues several times over with their new program proposals.

    6. Plus the tax cuts increased revenue, so they reduced the deficit.

      1. No, the tax cuts increased revenue far less than the bump in military spending (handouts to defense contractors) the GOP inexplicably voted for.

  8. The GOP doesn’t need a new theory of government. It’s basically following the New Deal playbook of the 1930’s. And that was rather successful at the time, wasn’t it? Right? Right?

    1. Name ten things you know about the actual New Deal. And you can’t use google or look it up on wikipedia. Now go. This should be entertaining.

      1. I can’t name 10 things off the top of my head. I doubt very few people could. What I was mainly referring to, however, was the GOP’s defense of the New Deal entitlement of social security, support for tight immigration restrictions like there were in the 1930’s, and a general feeling that the point of government should be to bestow benefits on “the common man” rather than on the rich and powerful elites. Trump even borrowed from the same “forgotten man” rhetoric that Roosevelt used. So while the Republicans aren’t all in on the New Deal type of wage and price controls that there were with agencies like the NRA etc., they share a similar ethos that government should be for benefitting “flyover country” instead of Wall Street fat cats or Ivy League nerds.

        1. I can name ten thing off the top of my head. So let me try to help you out, though I am convinced you are untrainable.

          1. Roosevelt ran on ending the defict that Hoover was running
          2. There was no one “New Deal”. One of the reason why the New Deal made the depression worse is that Roosevelt was constantly switiching policies never allowing the economy to adjust to any of them an constantly creating uncertainty
          3. With the exception of Social Security and the FDIC every part of the New Deal was by 1960 either repealed or amended beyond recognition. The 1947 passage of the Taft Hartley amendments to the National Labor Relations Act and the 55 Amendments to the FLSA was the end of all old New Deal programs sans Social Security and the FDIC
          4. The New Deal agricultural programs caused enormous harm to black famers in the South and was one of the biggest drivers of the great migration. Once the government started paying land owners not to farm, land owners in the South evicted their share croppers in the South leaving them homeless.

        2. 5. The Second New Deal, which gave the world the WPA and America’s first commitment to “slum clearance” was in many cases straight up national socialism and was heavily influenced by what Hitler was doing in Germany. Roosevelt’s second term was such a disaster and such an embarassment that even that great hagiographer Author Schlesinger could never bring himself to write the planned volume of his biography of FDR covering those years.
          6. It actually didn’t run particularly high deficits by modern standards. The average deficits during the prewar Roosevelt years was 3.7% of GNP. For many years Keynesians claimed the New Deal failed beucase it just didn’t spend enough.
          7. It was responsible for the first peacetime widespread hunger in American history. Thanks to the Agriculture Adjustment Act, food prices were kept artificially high at a time when the money supply had collapsed and wages along with it.
          8. At the end of the entire thing, the unemployment rate in 1939 was nearly as high as it was when it started in 1933 (17% versus 24% in 1933)

        3. 9. It tried to relocate farmers to Alaska. No kidding. It didn’t work out so well. But there are actually a few farms up there that are run by decendents of the victims of that piece of insanity.
          10. It had the most radically free trade policy in American history to that point. America had largely been a protectionist nation before the New Deal. Roosevelt ended most of that and radically opened US markets to foreign goods.

          There are ten things off of the top of my head. I apologize for not linking. But if you don’t believe me or think I am wrong, feel free to look for yourself and correct me if I am in fact wrong. But I don’t think I am.

          1. That’s nice, John. My point was that both the New Deal and the current Republican theory of government centers around economic populism, that what is best for ‘the forgotten man’ is what’s best for America. Roosevelt took that economic populist idea and used it to justify all manners of socialism. Trump doesn’t go as far as Roosevelt but, as you and other Republicans have been arguing here for months, Trump is okay with imposing economic controls on the country if it means “helping America first” which in his view means helping “the common man”.

            1. And that is just complete nonsense. “The Forgotten Man” was a term Roosevelt stole. Originally it stood for the people who had to pay for government doo gooder programs. Roosevelt made it stand for the poor person who benefited from them. Roosevelt was a lot of things, but he wasn’t a populist. None of his economic programs could be called populist. The guy saved the banks and Wall Street for God’s sakes. That is not what populists do.

              Trump’s economic policies have literally nothing in common with Roosevelt’s. It is clear you don’t know a damn thing about what you are talking about. You are just pulling analogies out of your ass because they sound good. Try learning something before making conclusions. You will find it works better that way for everyone.

              1. You’re dealing with Jeff and his can’t be bothered with analysis deeper than the first paragraph of an article he once read. Click on footnotes or do a robust analysis? No way man.

              2. None of his economic programs could be called populist.

                Oh good Lord. You’ve got to be kidding me, right? What was the whole WPA about? It was about putting people to work in make-work government jobs building infrastructure. Because government was looking out for the people. Because according to them, banks and the Free Market couldn’t be counted on to provide prosperity. Government would be looking out for the people instead.

                1. What was the whole WPA about? It was about putting people to work in make-work government jobs building infrastructure. Because government was looking out for the people

                  If you define “populism” to mean any kind of government welfare, sure. But I define words as the dictionary defines them not as the voices in my dead do. So, I don’t see that as a populist program and neither does anyone else who understands what the term means. “Populism” is about sticking it to the rich and controling the dark forces that are keeping everyone down. It is not about welfare.If the WPA is “populism” then socialism and communism are populist as well. And that is not within any recognized meaning of the term.

                  You such smug prick. I could forgive that if you knew anything. You clearly dont’ know a single fact about the New Deal. And when confronted with someone who does, you just act like a smug prick and define terms to suite you and in ways that are totally counter to how anyone who knows anything defines them.

                  You are pig ignorant and seem to pride yourself in being so. It is a sad way to be.

            2. Trump talks populism but so far he has signed legislation which is the same old same old “benefit the lobbyists that give money to Republicans” agenda.

        4. FDR saved American Capitalism.

          1. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    2. Yeah all that rampant tax cutting during the New Deal sure was just like what Trump did…

      1. And of course the De-regulation that Trump did was right from the New Deal.

    3. What? New Deal playbook came from the Dems and involved a lot of socialism. All those plays have already been run, by the Dems.

      1. Right?!?! I knew someone had to be smart enough to tell it like it was. It was the Democrats that introduced the “New Deal” socialistic plan by F.D.R. who stuffed the supreme courts because they told him they were UN-Constitutional.

  9. Cut. The. Spending.

    Tax cuts are pointless without cutting spending.

    1. “Tax cuts are pointless without cutting spending.”

      You’re getting it exactly backward.

      The way to stop drunken sailors from spending all of our money is not to give them more money to spend. The first thing to do is to stop giving them more money.

      The idea that the government would stop spending so much of our money if only they had more of our money to spend is ridiculous.

      Try to imagine the solution you’re proposing in the real world. Do you imagine that the government will someday be so flush with cash that they choose not to spend it?

      Isn’t that absurd?

      The government will only stop spending when they run out of other options. Cutting taxes gives them fewer options.

      1. Except that these drunken sailors have a credit card in your name, and they can raise the credit limit whenever they want.

        So it doesn’t matter how much money you give them. They’re going to spend whatever they want anyway, and put the difference on your card.

        1. “and they can raise the credit limit whenever they want.”

          No, actually they can’t. The ability to “raise the credit limit” is (or will be) impeded by revenue, and lowering that revenue will make the bill come due sooner rather than later.

          The credit card only looks unlimited. Eventually, even the US will run out of people to extend it credit if it can’t pay back.

          1. Congress can raise the credit limit with a vote.

            Yes, eventually people will stop buying federal debt. Eventually. And when that happens it won’t be pretty.

            But practically speaking, for the foreseeable future, “starving the beast” is nothing more than partaking in that third system in the above Basiat quote.

            The problem is spending. Cutting revenue will not cause the government to spend less. It only means they’ll borrow more.

            Unless you want to speed the collapse. I’d rather it not happen in my lifetime, because it’s gonna really suck.

            1. The real point is that that money is better off in the hands of the individual regardless.

              People that make the claim that we shouldn’t cut taxes because of the debt are basically saying that money is better off in the hands of the government in this particular case. I’d like to see an actual libertarian defend that. Because it is absurd.

          2. Haven’t you heard? One of the bits of economic insanity the Democrats came up with the last few years was that we should get rid of the debt ceiling. By which they mean, authorize borrowing without limit.

            I have little doubt they’ll do it at the next opportunity.

          3. They don’t even bother with the credit limit anymore. They just spend more.
            When the breaking point is finally reached, they will just inflate the currency so your life savings will buy you a cup of coffee.

        2. The amount of money the government can spend is actually limited by the size of their revenue stream and political opposition to increasing the size of that revenue stream through higher taxes.

          The government has to pay an interest rate to spend more than their revenue stream. That interest rate is a function of a number of things, perhaps foremost among them are inflation pressures (increased by the government’s own deficit spending) and the interest rate at which the market will lend to the government.

          When the inflation rate rises and/or the market demands a higher interest rate, the government must either increase taxes or lower spending in order to compensate. It is at that point that opposing taxation becomes especially crucial, but initiating that “crisis” by refusing to raise taxes is also important.

          There are other reasons to keep taxes low–fueling economic growth being a notable one.

          1. When the inflation rate rises and/or the market demands a higher interest rate, the government must either increase taxes or lower spending in order to compensate.

            When has government lowered spending? When? All I see is them borrowing the difference. I’m trying to keep my feet in reality land.

            1. Plenty of state governments have lowered spending. The government of Greece lowered spending when they could no longer afford the interest rate so high that the market would actually lend to them.

              To some extent, we are talking about the government not spending more than it is already because it can’t afford to spend more, but if inflation were to roar up to 12%, the service in on our debt would crowd out spending. It would be exactly the dilemma I’m talking about.

              If they can’t raise taxes because the people won’t have it or the economy can’t take it, then and only then, will they truly cut spending. Cutting spending as you want will be the very last thing they do–and only because there are no other options, for instance, like raising taxes.

              1. Estonia is a great example in the last decade no matter how much Krugman hand waives it away.

              2. Absolutely. They cannot be trusted with more tax income, because they will just spend it.

              3. States can’t print their own money. Greece couldn’t print Euros. The solution is obvious. If you want a reduction in federal spending, then you must remove the federal government’s power to print money. That’s the only thing that actually works.

            2. I meant our federal government. Thought it was implied. Yes other countries have. But I really don’t see our 535 idiots in charge doing it here.

              1. We both want the same thing–ultimately. We both want smaller government by slashing spending.

                I do not oppose cutting spending. I enthusiastically embrace it.

                I wish my fellow libertarians saw cutting taxes as a means to achieve lower spending–because that’s what it is.

                I strongly oppose my fellow libertarians opposing cutting income and corporate taxes in a wrongheaded attempt to fight deficit spending. I know their hearts are in the right place, but they’re actually working against their goals–for the reasons I’ve outlined here.

                Even Keynes agrees that the government will spend every penny it takes in–isn’t that why its spending represents an end-around the liquidity trap? If you don’t want them to spend your money, then don’t let them have your money.

                Cutting taxes is the most effective means we have at our disposal to ultimately cut spending. The second most effective means is to persuade our friends and families to insist on lower taxes and lower spending.

                1. We want the same thing, yes. But like I said I just don’t see cutting taxes as a way to get there. In theory perhaps, but not in practice. In practice the government will spend whatever it’s going to spend, and then borrow the difference.

                  1. So let’s cut its revenue so it can spend less. There is pressure against more borrowing if only inflationary, increasing interest rates, and political opposition to taxes. By not pushing for lower taxes, you’re taking pressure off of them to cut spending.

                  2. The deficit is a function of revenue. You’re right they will always borrow more than they extract but the less they extract the less they borrow.

                    1. “The less they extract the less they borrow”.

                      That is not true. The Repub agenda is to increase military spending, pay for the wall and not trim Medicare/Soc Security. How is that going to involve less borrowing.

                      Unless you make it part of the agenda explicitly “starve the beast” does not work.

                2. You know you can Google federal revenue year-over-year.

                  Try telling a Reaganaut that Reagan’s tax cuts increased the deficit and they’ll immediately leap up to correct you by pointing out that Reagan cut taxes and thereby increased federal revenues. You know, the whole Laffer Curve thing? When “smaller government” advocates defend their hero by pointing out he increased federal revenues, you’ve lost the argument.

                  1. Laffer curve or no Laffer curve, seeing economic growth outpace growth in spending is a real thing. Surely, you’ll concede that lower taxes are conducive to economic growth.

          2. Which is what these tax cuts did. We were stuck with very low or no growth with Obama. The economy needed a real shot in the arm. The tax cuts and roll-back of some regulations did that.

            You can hate Trump all you want, but he did in one year what Obama couldn’t or wouldn’t: he let the economy grow again.

        3. If it doesn’t matter how much we give them, then I’d like to keep more of my money please.

      2. Except those drunken sailors have a credit card and a bank that charges you if they they max it out.

    2. Tax cuts starve the beast.

      1. The best does not look like it’s starving. Hell, the beast is eating more than ever before!

  10. sarc’s solution: End baseline budgeting. That’s it. No built in increases in a program’s budget. If they spent $100 million last year, their starting budget this year is $100 million. Not $125 million or whatever the new baseline may be. Make each spending increase visible. Force a little honesty into the budget.

    1. End baseline budgeting and force the government to adopt the proper accounting proceedures that require future obligations to be recorded as current spending. Get rid of cash based budgeting.

    2. The budget should be you get to spend only what was brought in last year, not what is projected to come in next year and more on top of that.

    3. so your solution of ending baseline budgeting is to be replaced by doing baseline budgeting with a different baseline?

      Ending baseline budgeting would mean justifying spending at every turn and requiring project budget spending discipline because there are no overages allowed and the spigot of cash isn’t being turned on just because you screwed up.

  11. The GOP needs a new theory of government.

    More Free Shit! (Except free speech, we have far too much of that already.)

    If the GOP wants to win elections so they can enact their program of smaller government, they’re going to have to embrace a program of bigger government. Only by becoming more progressive than the progressives can the GOP hope to stop the progress of progressivism. Free healthcare, free college, guaranteed jobs and a guaranteed basic income – and then one-up the left by promising free beer and free ponies and free huey newtons. If a country as rich as ours can put a man on the Moon, surely we can provide an above-average lifestyle for every single American citizen and everybody who self-identifies as an American citizen. At it takes is the will to do it, let’s get cracking!

    1. The problem is that people like suderman think tax cuts are the government giving something to people.

  12. while increasing the deficit by more than $1 trillion

    Fake news, you lying fugazi libertarian cunt. The current deficit, while admittedly still awful, is basically exactly the same as it was when your personal Christ figure Block Insane Yomomma was running up $9.2 trillion of debt of eight years. If it was a trillion dollars higher now it would be around $2 trillion a year. Also, the feds are taking in record levels of tax revenue. The deficit is almost entirely due to the spending, not the tax rates.

    1. And in case anyone here thinks I’m the liar and not MacAdoodle, here’s the proof right here. This link points to the “debt to the penny” numbers from the United States Department of the Treasury itself for the last year that Block Insane Yomomma was in office: January 20, 2016 to January 20, 2017. Click on it and you’ll see right away for yourself that during this last year, the debt increased by just over one trillion dollars.

      The real life budget deficit when Mofo left office was one trillion dollars a year, exactly what it still is now. Not whatever bullshit number the CBO, Pete MacAdoodle Suderweigel, or any of the other lickspittles in the media claim.

    2. Reason doesn’t know the difference between the deficit and the debt.

      1. Oh they do, they’re intentionally trying to mislead people. Suderweigel in particular is a world class grade A liar.

    3. This is ignorance in it’s purest form. The first day of Obama’s presidency, the projected deficit was 1.3 trillion dollars. That’s what he inherited from W (who inherited budget surpluses from Clinton). By the end of of Obama’s presidency the deficit was down to 500 billion, having gone down year by year throughout his two terms.

      Now, in the midst of a decent economic expansion, debt is climbing back towards a trillion dollars. But large deficits usually occur with the higher government costs and lower tax returns of a recession, and then lessen as expansion brings the opposite conditions. Only the gross irresponsibility of Trump and the GOP could bring soaring debt with a roaring economy.

      So yeah, the ignorant can match up the numbers, but it’s kinda like comparing two planes at 300ft, one gently lifting off, the other plunging to the earth in flames. Context matters, ya know?

      And, yeah, spending is up. Are you surprised? When the Republicans passed their bill EVERYONE knew the math, projections, and voodoo justifications used to sell it were all fraudulent lies. Standard right-wing orthodoxy runs something like this : “We’re going to max out the nation’s credit card on a binge of hookers and coke, champagne and caviar. You over there be responsible and fix the resulting mess”. But human psychology doesn’t work that way. When people see the GOP run a con they don’t think sacrifice; they want their own piece of the action.

      1. This is ignorance in it’s purest form. The first day of Obama’s presidency, the projected deficit was 1.3 trillion dollars. That’s what he inherited from W (who inherited budget surpluses from Clinton).

        First of all, the Congress sets the budget. And the budget deficit declined every year from 03 thourgh 06. Then in 07, the Democrats took over Congress and it exploded. So, it wasn’t really W’s deficit. Sure he signed the budgets but short of shutting down the government and getting blamed for it, he really had no choice.

        Second, the $1.9 trillion deficit was primarily the result of TARP. Now W. does deserve a lot of blame for that. It was his program. But Obama supported it and voted for it as a Senator. And continued it while President. So, he shares just as much blame.

        Third, TARP ended and the budget was still enormous. Why? Because the first thing Obama did as President was sign a stimulus package that cost over $900 billion and raised all non defense related domestic spending baselines by 50%.

        So, you really don’t know your ass from a hole in the ground about this subject.

        1. Debt went down year by year under Obama, despite the fact he inherited trillion-dollar yearly deficits from Bush and the worst economy since the Great Depression.

          Debt is climbing year by year under Trump, despite the fact he inherited an economic expansion.

          You can weasel six ways to Sunday, toss around empty insults freely, but you can’t change the facts. But if you want pretend to care about debt, here are the questions. Ever helpful, I provide the answers too:

          1) Does growth from tax cuts offset their lost revenue? Trump’s don’t come remotely close.
          (2) Do the cuts cause a drop in the revenue otherwise collected? Trump’s cause a massive drop.
          (3) Is it responsible to pile up debt during an economic expansion? No.

          Responsibility is not something associated with the modern Republican party. At least, not until the next Democrat is in office……

          1. Debt went down year by year under Obama, despite the fact he inherited trillion-dollar yearly deficits from Bush and the worst economy since the Great Depression.

            That is just completely untrue. The debt went up every year. The deficit, went down but that was only because it was artificially high when he started due to TARP. The fact that TAPR went away doesn’t excuse Obama for raising baseline spending 50%. TARP was going to end no matter what. He shouldn’t get credit for that.

            Obama created more debt than every previous President combined. If you want to talk about this subject, you should learn the difference between deficit and debt.

            1) Does growth from tax cuts offset their lost revenue? Trump’s don’t come remotely close.

            You have no evidence to support that. The fact remains that revenues are higher today than they were. Would they be even higher without the tax cut? Maybe but there is nothing saying they would. More importantly, the most you can say about the tax cut is that it caused the government to have less revenue than it would have had. You cannot say it lowered revenue since revenue is at a record high.

            Your second question is just a repeat of the first. And as far as piling up debt during an economic expansion, Obama did it for 8 years. Moreover, the government has record revenue. So, if you are worried about debt, the sollutiuon is to cut spending.

            1. “the most you can say about the tax cut is that it caused the government to have less revenue than it would have had.”

              We really can’t even say that with certainty because we don’t have an alternate reality in which there were no tax cuts to compare revenues.

          2. Debt went down year by year under Obama.

            Lying scumbag! My facts come straight from the United States Department of the Treasury, and you have nothing to counteract them with other than lies from your filthy, disgusting piehole.

            Fact #1: During the eight years Obama was in office, the debt increased by $9.2 trillion, from $10.626 trillion to $19.947 trillion. Proof.

            Fact #2: During his last year in office, the debt increased by $1 trillion, from $18.941 trillion to $19.947 trillion. Proof.

          3. OK, four points :

            (1) My posts haven’t been going thru. Great loss to mankind, huh?

            (2) I can believe there are people stupid enough to not understand the difference between yearly debt and sum debt, but here we are. Often times when I’m arguing with right-types, I face the eternal question : Are they dumb enough not to understand something so simple, or are they pretending to be dumb because they’re dumb enough to believe that gives them a tactical advantage. The end result is the same, it’s just how you get there.

            (3) Yearly debt for the record : Obama inherited 1.3 trillion dollars in red ink at the start of his presidency; he cut it to under 500 billion by his last year. This is normal. Post-Reagan republicans always make things worse, democrats always make things better.

            (4) Sum debt for the record – Percentage of sum debt increase per each year in office :

            Reagan : 13.9% per year, 8yrs
            GHW Bush : 11.5% per year. 4yrs
            Clinton : 4% per year, 8yrs
            W Bush : 8.5% per year, 8yrs
            Obama : 7.5% per year, 8yrs

            The numbers are from Forbes Magazine so are probably leftist propaganda – just like reality itself, huh? W Bush inherits surpluses; Obama inherits trillion dollar deficits. But the sum debt still increased slower under his presidency. What does that tell you? Trump’s numbers will, of course, be a disaster….

            1. You’re stupid grb. Your analysis is completely ignorant. FY09 was signed by Obama, bush refused. It was a pelosi and Schumer budget.

              Tarp was fully repaid.the outlays we’re counted solely on bushes budget but the repayments under Obama’s. This is dishonest bullshit to lie to idiots like you. Obama also used the TARP outlays in his baseline budgeting of continuous resolutions. These one time payments. Obama made the spending permanent.

      2. By the end of of Obama’s presidency the deficit was down to 500 billion

        Stop lying, you sack of shit. I just posted the freaking link showing that the debt increased by a trillion dollars in his last year in office!

      3. thanks for the warning of what was to follow with your first sentence. made the rest of the nonsense easier to understand.

      4. So much ignorance in one lost… Debt increased every year under Clinton. Clinton left with the country headed towards a recession after the dot com bubble burst. The housing policies that cause the over leveraging and easy credit we’re put into place by Clinton. Obama took office and the recession ended 5 months later, before a single policy was implemented by him. Obama’s reduction in deficit included hundreds of million in TARP repayments, Obama got credit for the repayments. These were one time expenditures yet are included in your source of ignorance.

        Don’t call others ignorant when you exude it.

    4. One more thing : For almost forty years, supply-side economics has failed every time it’s been tried. That’s because it’s not really economics at all, but window dressing to promise free stuff at no cost. But every step of the way there has been right-types excusing all the broken promises and bogus math by saying : “Tax revenue is up”

      These people aren’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. Over the last century, tax revenues increased 46 of 50 years. Hit by a bad recession, they will reset lower, and then creep up slowly. During an economy expansion they grow by leaps and bounds. This is after tax cuts, tax increases, and level taxes. Let’s look at the past ten years, federal tax revenue in trillions :

      FY 2009 : 2.10
      FY 2010 : 2.16
      FY 2011 : 2.30
      FY 2012 : 2.45
      FY 2013 : 2.77
      FY 2014 : 3.02
      FY 2015 : 3.25
      FY 2016 : 3.27
      FY 2017 : 3.32
      FY 2018 : 3.34 (estimated)

      It’s probable tax returns will continue to creep up slowly under Trump, but probably not as much as under Obama. So debt will grow and grow. It’s like handing over your checking account to a hormone-addled teenager. What did you thing would happen?

      1. Your own figures show that tax revenues are increasing and in fact are at a record high. So, yes, it appears that tax cuts do not decrease revenue. Your own figures show that.

        Supply side economics produced a boom in the 1980s and are producing a boom now.

        1. Duh. Just as revenue grows with the normal growth of an economy – during both upturns and downturns – so does expenditures. Even if the scope of government does change a whit, costs still rise. Is it possible you don’t know that? What exactly did your brain conjure up, that revenue increased 1.22 trillion dollars under Obama, but the crafty devil found new ways to spend it all???

          Debt is exploding under Trump because (a) revenue growth is not equaling normal cost expansion, and (b) normal cost expansion is augmented by even more spending – because the message from the top is it’s PartyTime, without a care for tomorrow. As for the “boom in the 1980s”, Reagan grew the country’s sum debt by 13.9% yearly, prorated over his eight years. That is – if you care to look it up – twice as high as debt grew under Obama. Math was math even under Ronnie. Also : The economy was even better under Clinton and his tax hike. This puts your fairy-tale supply-side religion exactly where? It seems magic purple unicorns don’t exist after all.

          The Clinton surpluses were caused by :

          (1) Broad tax increases under GHW Bush and Clinton
          (2) Tight spending restrictions under GHW Bush and Clinton
          (3) An expansion reaping the rewards from higher tax rates

          Imagine that! Not a purple unicorn in sight…..

          1. There were no Clinton surpluses, you’ve bought into a fucking gimmick.

      2. I know all about Hauser’s Law, asswipe. Marginal tax rates basically have no effect on revenue in the United States. Federal revenue runs at a nearly constant 18% of GDP in America.

        Like I said from the very beginning, the deficit is a spending problem, not a tax rate problem.

    5. Deficits are always due to spending more than you take in. That’s how the math works.

      Obama’s deficits were too high. Trump is doubling down on Obama’s stupidity. He’s selling the same garbage, but he’s put it in a different package. I’m not fooled, but Trump has fooled millions of Republicans into believing he is reducing deficits when he is absolutely not.

      The scary thing about Trump’s rising deficits is that they’re happening when there’s no war and no recession. That has never happened before. We’ve had rising deficits during recessions. We’ve had rising deficits during war. But we’ve never had rising deficits when there is no war and no recession. That’s downright terrifying.

  13. Only progressives are so obsessed with how people think about things that are happening. The rest of us, especially libertarians, are supposed to have our thinking driven by real events in the real world, hence our obsession with markets. The progressives imagine they know what the people really want. Libertarians really do know–since it’s indicated by things like consumer behavior in markets.

    The voters didn’t need to be persuaded that cutting corporate taxes was a good thing. They just noticed things like a low unemployment rate, rising wages, and increased participation in the job market among unskilled workers.

    The greatest way to “trick” voters into believing that cutting corporate taxes will improve their lives is to actually improve their lives through corporate tax cuts–and that’s exactly what happened. Is the economy better than it would have been with lower corprotate tax rates? The correct answer is “yes”–and that answer is not determined by a popularity contest. The Republicans did as well as they did because the economy is so good, and the economy doing so well is not unrelated to cutting corporate taxes.

  14. “If the GOP wants to win elections so they can enact their program of smaller government,”

    Smaller government was never the GOP’s program, their public support of small government was never more than a ruse for the suckers.

  15. The tax cuts failed in part because the media lied about it everyday and some people who are conservative but not tax savey thoughT they were getting screwed when they weren’t. but you can blame the republicans for this since they always make laws but never bother to go out and explain it, they seem to think once its done thats all thats needed. they have to act like Reagan did SELL SELL SELL……. and repeat

    1. The tax cuts didn’t fail.

      Because the voters don’t connect the dots so emphatically doesn’t mean that tax cuts don’t improve the real economy or that voters don’t vote based on what’s happening in the real economy.

      All indications at the polls are that there was a blue wave. Voters turned out to the polls in droves. There was a huge upswing in voter participation. It’s just that the blue wave was met by Republicans. Those Republicans wouldn’t have shown up for the midterms if the economy weren’t doing so well–and the economy doing so well is largely a function of the tax cuts and deregulation.

      You didn’t hear much about deregulation during the midterms either. So what? The reason Trump outperformed Clinton and Obama in terms of how many seats his party lost in his first midterm is largely attributable to the state of the economy–a lot of which is about deregulation and tax cuts.

      1. There is no legitimate economic theory that supports a case for these tax cuts doing anything positive for the overall economy.

        Just own what you believe. Rich people should keep more of their money and the public sector should be shrunk. Stop trying to come up with excuses. It’s sad.

        1. “There is no legitimate economic theory that supports a case for these tax cuts doing anything positive for the overall economy.”

          Taxing corporate profits to redistribute them through a legislature is called democratic socialism.

          Taxing corporate profits by 100% and redistributing them is called socialism or communism.

          There’s another theory called “capitalism”. It’s a legitimate theory.

          You’re an imbecile.

          1. I’m asking that you stop defending this policy on Keynesian grounds. We haven’t had tax rates, for anyone, high enough that cutting would produce meaningful stimulus since the 1970s. And we don’t even need stimulus right now. Republicans exist to loot the country’s wealth and give it to their donors. That’s literally their only job. If that’s the sum total of your political philosophy, that’s cool, I just wish you’d own it.

            1. Keynes was wrong, but he was nowhere near as stupid as you’re making him out to be.

              It’s a common problem with you, Tony. You advocating Keynesian economics makes him look stupid in the same way that you actually make progressive intellectuals look dumber than they are by parroting them badly. The worst thing you could do to the libertarian movement is actually become one. Oh, how embarrassing that would be! You lack rationality. You’re demonstrably incapable of the stuff.

              If Socrates had come knocking on your door, looking for a wise man, he’d have been dumbfounded at the depth of your ignorance. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone more ignorant than you are that claims to know more. Congratulations.

              1. Your problem is the reason you’re defending policy on Keynesian grounds is because that’s what Republicans do, and you regurgitate whatever they feed you. Surely you have an idea of how utterly boring that is.

        2. “There is no legitimate economic theory that supports a case for these tax cuts doing anything positive for the overall economy.”

          Tony making cite free assertions again.

          1. No, he just used the word “legitimate” which means “anything I disagree with doesn’t matter” to make his statement a tautology.

        3. What to rich people do with their money?

          Seriously, Tony.

          What do you think rich people do with these profits you want to tax?

          1. They do whatever they want with it. What’s your point? Either we’re having a conversation about macroeconomic health or we’re having a conversation about something else.

            1. I’ll tell you what they don’t do. They don’t fill up a pool with money and swim in it.

              They spend it or they invest it. When they spend it they buy stuff. That means they’re paying people to do things for them. That’s good for the economy, right?

              When they invest it it grows businesses. That creates jobs. I mean, when businesses grow they tend to hire people, right? That’s good for the economy, right?

              Either way they’re paying people to do stuff. We get more jobs and more stuff. The economy grows. That’s good, right?

              Contrast that with how government spends money. Government doesn’t create anything (it pays people to create things, but it doesn’t create anything by itself) and it can waste money like nobody’s business. Government is a zero-sum game. It doesn’t grow the economy. It just moves money around. Yeah people get paid to sit on their ass or shuffle papers, and they buy stuff, but they generally don’t make stuff while they’re at it. Nothing productive happens.

              So it seems pretty obvious that letting the rich keep their money is much better for macroeconomic health than giving that money to government. The rich buy stuff and increase productive capacity. The pie grows. The government shuffles papers and pays people to sit on their asses. A slice is taken from the pie. It gets smaller.

              1. “When they invest it it grows businesses. That creates jobs. I mean, when businesses grow they tend to hire people, right? That’s good for the economy, right?”

                That’s basically correct for the productive part of the economy, but for the financial sector? Nope, it’s just trading counters back and forth and taking a cut along the way, taking advantage of the fact everybody else has no practical way to opt out of having their counters traded back and forth.

        4. Rich people should keep more of their money and the public sector should be shrunk

          Close.

          EVERYONE should keep more of their money and the public sector should be made as small as possible

          Now it’s right.

        5. “There is no legitimate economic theory that supports a case for these tax cuts doing anything positive for the overall economy.”

          Jesus christ this is new levels of stupidity even for Tony.

  16. Turns out people actually need to be thrown enough crumbs to be macroscopically detectable before they appreciate a plutocratic sop. And isn’t it double fun that we have to worry about how the president of the US will react emotionally when he’s told that his only legislative achievement may have been a political loser for him?

  17. “The tax law permanently cut corporate tax rates and reduced individual income taxes through the middle of the next decade while increasing the deficit by more than $1 trillion.”

    Just for the record, the Republican House passed a bill that would have cut direct spending by more than $1.022 trillion. The Senate was within a few votes of passing that bill, and Donald Trump lobbied like crazy to get those last few senators to sign it. It would have cut $772 billion from Medicaid–a huge socialist program that lies at the heart of many of our healthcare problems.

    https://www.cbo.gov/publication/52849

    Peter Suderman opposed that bill because of what it didn’t do.

    I haven’t forgotten those who actually oppose cutting spending, and I won’t forget.

    1. Of course Sudderman opposed that bill. He has been very clear and consistent in claiming that the way to deal with the deficit is to raise taxes. He is a real Libertarian like that.

      1. He consistently seems to oppose cutting Medicaid, that’s for sure.

    2. And I haven’t forgotten those who consider fake promises of cutting spending some time in the future as being genuine, because they are really just Republican water-carriers and not interested in holding anyone accountable for cutting spending.

      1. The idea that we shouldn’t cut spending now because some future Congress might reinstate it is profoundly stupid.

        Calling someone ingenuine for advocating that is giving them the benefit of the doubt.

        1. The idea that we shouldn’t cut spending now because some future Congress might reinstate it is profoundly stupid.

          No Ken, that’s not the point.

          The “repeal” bill DIDN’T ACTUALLY CUT ANY SPENDING. It only PROMISED to cut spending MAYBE in the future, conveniently right after the 2018 election.

          You are falsely claiming that it was some real cut in spending. It wasn’t. It never was. It was only intended to be a political campaign tactic – “vote for us in 2018 or those mean nasty Democrats will undo what we didn’t really do in the first place!”

          You are just carrying Republican water when you try to pretend that Republicans actually cut anything.

          1. “The “repeal” bill DIDN’T ACTUALLY CUT ANY SPENDING. It only PROMISED to cut spending MAYBE in the future, conveniently right after the 2018 election.”

            Future Congress (if the Democrats took both the House and Senate) might try to reinstate spending in 2018, so we shouldn’t cut spending in 2017?

            You’re a blind man in a dark room for a black cat that isn’t there, and you think you’ve found it.

            1. so we shouldn’t cut spending in 2017

              If the Republicans HAD ACTUALLY CUT 2017 SPENDING, you might have a point.

              1. Because you want them to cut $772 billion from Medicaid ahead of an election is no reason to oppose cutting $772 billion from Medicaid after an election.

                And you don’t want $772 billion cut from Medicaid anyway, do you.

                1. I am totally fine with Republicans or Democrats or anyone cutting $772 billion from Medicaid or any other government spending program. Let me know when Republicans or Democrats ACTUALLY DO THAT. You want to give Republicans credit for something that they didn’t actually do. And you want us all to ignore their serial habit of lying about their totally earnest desire to cut spending. (They really mean it this time!)

                  Just admit that you are completely on Team Red at this point.

                  1. Right, so you support cutting $772 billion from Medicaid, but not at the cost of doing it a year from now–and that’s what you’re all about.

                    Incidentally, supporting the Republicans when they try to cut $772 billion from Medicaid is fully within the context of what being a libertarian is all about.

                    I’d support the Democrats’ attempt to cut $772 billion from Medicaid, but when have they ever done that?

                    P.S. You’re a laughing stock.

        2. The Republicans played the same trick that Democrats always play when they propose raising taxes. ALWAYS, when Democrats propose to raise taxes, they say “but in the future, we’ll reform those programs, we’ll trim the fat, really we will, but right now, we really just need the taxes to keep these vital government programs going”. And they never get around to cutting anything in the future. Because they played the people for suckers. They got their tax money, they got to buy more votes for re-election, so all those promises to reform or cut anything are just broken.

          The Republicans pulled the same type of trick. They wanted all the political benefits of “repealing ObamaCare” without actually repealing anything. It was all a charade. It was OBVIOUS to anyone who isn’t just a Republican sycophant what an utter charade it was.

        3. The idea that anyone in any position of power should be given credit for “cutting spending” when they didn’t cut any spending but only promised to cut spending, and from the same people who have long histories of promising to cut spending but never cutting any spending, is just Team Red cheerleading. I expected more from you, Ken. You’ve really let me down.

    3. I haven’t forgotten those who actually oppose cutting spending, and I won’t forget.

      The fake libertarians of Reason want to cut defense spending only, and nothing else. And we absolutely SHOULD cut defense spending, but as part of a fair and balanced across the board spending reduction.

      The fugazis like Suderman want us to continue to go down the road of becoming more and more like a western European country. Less and less defense spending to fund more and more welfare.

      I’d be on board with the plan if in fact it actually worked. But it doesn’t, and those European countries are the proof.

  18. Government will not cut spending until forced to. The best way to force it to is to support a Constitutional revival that affirms the limited power of the feds to tax. Once people , especially young people, understand the Constitution is being violated by the IRS, not in the tax laws themselves, but in the ways they are applied, progress can be made.
    Once young people understand they are not actually required to pay income and payroll taxes unless their receipts come from a constitutional sourced federal privilege, which is most people, they can decide for themselves whether they want to support big government and entitlements.
    Many thousands understand this today, and by filing educated returns receive full Refunds of state and federal tax withholding, including payroll taxes. It is up to citizens, not politicians, to stand up for the rule of law. See http://www.losthorizons.com
    .

  19. >>>the centerpiece of their midterm campaign

    McCain lost the midterms for (R).

    1. Had he not lied and actually voted to repeal Obamacare, I imagine things would look a lot different. What a dirtbag.

      1. i mean he can r.i.p. and all, and soon enough will be dustbinned and no longer a topic so that will be nice

        I think the Ryan-led exodus of incumbents hurt (R) also

  20. “It will mean abandoning the current GOP conception of deficit-financed tax cuts as costless handouts to voters in favor of an understanding that taxes are a price we pay for government.”

    So- being allowed to keep more of the money you work to earn is a handout now? Fuck that.

  21. What does the party of tax cuts do when tax cuts no longer sell?

    For the moment, at least, the answer turns out to be: Push for more tax cuts.

    As well it should be for libertarians. Cut spending and cut taxes. Together, they are great policy. Alone, each is still desirable. In no world does the dollar do more economic good in the hands of the bureaucrat than in the hands of the private sector actor.

    1. No no… we’re being pragmatic here. If tax cuts lead to more deficit because spending is the immovable object, then the correct path forward is to increase taxes infinitely until the deficits are under control.

  22. The problem is that the left keeps inching to victory because the GOP can’t or won’t make a forceful challenge to the underlying moral arguments they use. The left never succeeds in a good faith battle of ideas. They win arguments by not really having them. When have you ever heard a substantive defense of property rights from a GOP politician whenever the progs rail about “tax cuts for the rich”, or increasing control of the private sector through regulations, or any new free shit they think everyone is owed? NEVER!

    Its all about property rights. That’s the foundation of liberty and individual sovereignty. All matters of government are about property rights. Every policy question at its most basic level is a question OF PROPERTY. The reason Socialism/Communism?..MARXISM ends up in authoritarianism is not because they were implemented wrong, its because those systems are based on the destruction of property rights. The GOP needs to figure out how to articulate that effectively.

  23. Next year is the first increased tax returns. A little premature to yell failure don’t you think?

  24. income taxes through the middle of the next decade while increasing the deficit by more than $1 trillion.

    If only something could be done on the spending side of the equation.

  25. I think the reason that the 2017 tax cuts failed as a GOTV motivator is that they weren’t what they were spun as: tax reform. They cut some taxes and complicated the code enormously, creating new gimmes that have little basis in sound policy.

    What the Republicans should have done was take the time to revamp the tax code, top to bottom. Remove exemptions, lower rates, close loopholes. Don’t be afraid of revenue neutrality. Make the tax code fairer and clearer to understand. Make the return something you can file on a postcard (remember?).

    But that would have taken time, and they just couldn’t wait, could they? They needed to offer up a “Christmas present” to Trump before the 2018 election season got fully underway. So they jammed this ridiculous thing through and juiced the stock market, and the only thing they can think of doing now is to do it all over again.

    That’s why it failed this election. But govern well, and you might just get re-elected.

    1. Congress was Republican, not libertarian, so there was no reason to expect a libertarian tax cut. In that environment, we take what we can get.

      If Hillary Clinton had been elected, she would have fought to raise taxes–didn’t she campaign on that? We got tax cuts because the guy in the White House would sign them.

      The alternative wasn’t a libertarian piece of legislation negotiated by a libertarian congress and signed by a libertarian president. That we got lower corporate taxes at all is rather extraordinary. That’s a capitalist, libertarian goal–ex nihilo.

      1. Congress was Republican, not libertarian, so there was no reason to expect a libertarian tax cut. In that environment, we take what we can get.

        I’m not talking about a “libertarian tax cut.” I’m talking about tax reform like the 1986 revamp, which was Republican-led but bipartisan. It just takes time to put something like that together.

        That’s what the Republicans promised. That’s what they failed to deliver. That’s why it didn’t GOTV.

        1. It takes time, and it also takes participation by the Democrats. They had zero incentive to participate in anything that might tend to improve Republican electoral chances.

    2. The other major problem was what Welchie Boy of Brooklyn was bitching about endlessly on Twitter when the bill first passed: a lot of upper middle class and upper class people in the blue enclaves took a hit on their state and local tax (SALT deduction).

      That almost certainly cost the republicans somewhat in certain areas.

      1. The wailing over the cap on SALT deductions is going to be deafening in a few short months.

        It’s gonna be great.

    3. Exactly. It wasn’t reform. In fact, it led to more loopholes that Mr. “I know all the loopholes and exploit them” President promised to close (those of us who are sane knew that would never happen) but will instead enjoy exploiting. But it did close some loopholes, namely, the only ones upwardly-mobile Middle Classer were ever able to use. It also raised or kept flat the taxes for people right around $100-150k in household income. The people at the top didn’t want any company, so they made sure those closest to them paid the price to dubiously keep the bill under the Byrd Rule deficit threshold.

      Turns out that it wasn’t in compliance under the Byrd Rule anyway, but, of course, nothing will come of that.

  26. The problem the Republicans have is that they have a big mismatch between what the party operatives care about and what their voters tend to care about. And in some cases, as in health care, the two positions are extremely difficult to reconcile.

    And while Democrats have a similar gap on their side, it’s not as wide as what exists for Republicans. But Republicans have generally been better at exploiting the Democrats’ gap than vice versa.

  27. The big problem is media propagandists, like we have at Reason.

    They lie and lie and lie.

    They know something and wont admit it. Nearly every Democrats who could vote did. Hundreds of thousands of registered Republicans did not vote this midterm. Even with higher voter turnout overall, midterms dont get voter turnout levels like presidential election years.

    2020 will be 100 times worse for Democrats. Trump will get reelected, GOP will get more Senate seats and House seats.

  28. A VAT or flat income tax of 10% would have made most people happy, except accountants, tax lawyers, and those who pay no tax.

    1. you will still need accountants and tax lawyers to verify all the paper work that goes with VAT or even flat income tax. I’m in favor of the VAt since then everyone pays even illegals and immigration becomes less of an issue except we need to put a minimum time frame a person was in teh country before receiving retirement benifits

      1. I’m in favor of an Alternative Maximum Tax.
        Once you pay the max (say 10K), you don’t need to file or disclose anything else.
        No one should have to pay more than 10K for their government.

  29. Starve the beast not only works (see numerous examples of State level governments cutting budgets during hard times), it’ the ONLY thing that works. You will never see a spending reduction until there is a revenue reduction.

    1. Its unfortunate how hard the lesson is to learn, tax increases are spending increases.

      1. Not for Republicans, they are responsible for both ends of the debt–the spending and the cutting of revenue. See: military budget, Medicare Part D, war (not included in military budget, because it’s “special”), etc.

    2. It’s also the most libertarian approach to dealing with a fiscally impudent government.

      No point making the productive bear that burden.

  30. Text Cuts don’t cause deficits. what credible libertarian would even suggest that?

    1. You were looking for credible libertarians on Reason?

  31. I am so sick of Suderman writing about this issue. His take stinks. Let me keep my money and let’s hasten the demise of the federal government.

    People will see how much they benefited when they do their taxes next year. I’m pretty certain I’m over withholding right now and am due for a huge refund. I think many people are in the same boat, especially people with children.

  32. The GOP did poorly because feelings matter. Trump is an asshole and people don’t like that. I’m not saying I agree with that logic, but it is what it is. Trump gives less of a shit about principles than he cares about being Trump. He is, apparently, lacking in the intelligence and self control which might allow him to better deliver on his various promises. The election was less a referendum on tax policy and more about sticking it to the mean, rich, white guys. It was about #metoo and pussy grabs. It was about racist dog whistles. It was about the media shit-show that is this administration.

    The GOP has been out to lunch on economics since… I dunno… Reagan? I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for them to adopt libertarian economic principles unless we get another democrat in the oval office.

    1. Unrelenting negative media reports for 2 years didn’t help either, just like months of mocking media coverage helped Trump get elected in 2016.

  33. America is gonna fail anyway — I might as well have a few extra bucks to enjoy while I wait.

    Nearing 50, I may miss the worst of it. I’ll let millennials deal with the wailing and gnashing of teeth — can’t think of a more deserving generation.

    1. Worst take ever

  34. Republicans had to cede Healthcare as a political plank when McStain torpedoed repeal of the ACA.

    1. Which probably saved them further losses.

  35. The debt is like a big pile of cow shit in your living room. Every day a truck shows up and delivers another load of shit. The family hates the pile of shit and constantly argues about who is going to shovel the shit out of the house. Of course nobody wants the burden of doing the shoveling so the pile continues to grow and take up more space in the living room.
    One day the family finally gave up arguing about shoveling and called the shit company and told them to stop delivering to their house…

    The problem isn’t who is going to pay the taxes to lower the debt, the problem is congress continues to deliver truckloads of shit….

  36. In related news, mental health officials are puzzled by a surprise wave of masochism sweeping the American public. All over the country, voters are chanting: “Tax me, Big Brother–tax me hard!”

  37. Speaking of which:

    http://www.imao.us/index.php/2…..avel-back/

  38. Most people don’t make enough money to benefit from tax cuts of any kind. Half the country pays little or no income tax. But most of them would qualify or benefit from “free healthcare for all”.

    If cutting corporate taxes is a boost for the economy (libertarians have criticized the country’s high corporate taxes for years) then why does it matter that a legion of uninformed voters are against it? If cutting spending was an absolute prerequisite for cutting taxes, then nothing would ever get cut.

    Most of the electorate will not rise to the GOP’s side if they make an articulate, easy to understand healthcare alternative. That’s not really the issue. The left has already responded negatively to more libertarian arguments made by the likes of Stossel. The MSM often mocks the notion that healthcare choices can resemble choices on a menu where customers can make comparisons.

  39. The reason tax cuts don’t act as a permanent stimulus is that everyone knows they’re temporary.

  40. Turn on your way-back machine, and go back and “dust-bin” those tax cuts, and then fast forward to see what the electoral outcome would have been last week with a still stagnant economy.

    “There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them.”

    George Orwell

  41. Suderman – you should be fired from Reason as you demonstrate none.

    1) Republicans love Trumps Tax Cut Bill.
    2) Democrats are NOT the majority voters (as you say).
    3) Republicans had the House, Senate, and Presidency only but a month ago.
    4) You should be fired from such a “was” respectable publication as Reason until you came along.

    Please apply to work at NY Times so you can peddle this garbage or oh wait “fake news”.

    1. Reads all right-wing publications and regurgitates their arguments when someone points out that those arguments aren’t working.

      1. “Aren’t Working”! Hah!! You must be joking. Unemployment at an all time low. Per Capita income is up. WHAT about it isn’t working???? The $1 Trillion deficit? Lets compare that to the Obama Administration at $20 Trillion!! Even if NOTHING changes ( which it will since more people are paying taxes ) It would take President Trump 20-years to correlate the same debt as Obama.

        @ILuvPolitics; Regurgitates pigeon-holed propaganda arguments that are just not true.

  42. Hard to call the cuts a political failure when the Repubs kept the Senate. The losses in the House might have been worse, absent the tax cuts, particularly if the economy had stalled out without the added boost to corporate profits.

    Even if you believe the exit polls, the tax cuts were a political winner, 28 to 22 percent.

    Seems like it might have hurt the Repubs in some blue states where the tax cuts didn’t help high income voters who used to itemize a lot though. But those seats were always at risk anyway in a midterm election.

  43. shows how stupid people are. if they have a W-2 wage, then they saw an increase in take-home pay. The withholding tables were changed to ensure it.

  44. This is a good piece, but I don’t understand the value in pollsters asking such questions. To start, the responses to the question don’t correspond to the actual the distribution tables for the tax cut. We know that 22% of people did not see an increase in their tax bill. So how to we interpret such a response? The poll could be detecting misinformation about the tax bill, or could be a purely partisan effect. Respondents might also be interpreting “hurt” as “increasing inequality,” which could indirectly impact their finances. Many say this didn’t impact their finances, but again, we know that not be true from the distribution tables. The changes in withholding might be too small to be salient, but this does not mean that the tax cut did not have an impact.

    The second problem is that the tax cut might be having an impact in the long run, but this likely wouldn’t appear in responses to pollsters. If a company hires me because they reinvest their higher after-tax returns, would a respondent necessary recognize that their employment was a result of the tax cut? Of course, we should care about crafting legislation that is palatable to the American people, but we shouldn’t let the people be the sole judge of whether a policy is “good” or not.

  45. Trump was elected because of his immigration agenda and his trade agenda, period. The two things that the establishment GOP hates him and sabotages him for. Especially his immigration agenda. Very high majorities of Americans agree with Trump’s immigration agenda — even majorities of black and Hispanic Americans. It’s the most important issue of our time.

  46. More proofreading.

  47. Funny that no matter what the congress does they increase the deficit. Even under Clinton’s “surplus” with “no deficit” the federal debt increased. They should maybe just quit.

  48. Much injustice from undeserved indulgences without accountability & promoting socio-economic disparity, then parasitic exploitation & neglect of people including this USN retiree.
    In San Diego, CA, all elected reps ignored requests for assistance, protection, & involvement during incidents of injury, crime, injustice, & growing disparity then indulged beside forced into homelessness & property stolen, still not provided deserved assistance & recovery, legal protection, or medical treatment for injuries & life-threatening complications.
    HUD Neighborhood Stabilization Program an instance, among many (including VASH, SSVF, supposed Opportunity Zones, …), of Federal dole providing undeserved subsidies & indulgences to local city & county kleptocracies (along with corporateers, banksters, parasitic profiteers, politicronies, NGOs, …) evading oversight, committing fraud & malfeasance while promoting price distortion, injustice, & socio-economic disparity.
    Despite obvious injustice, disparity, & economic distortion foreseen & consequent to such an indulgent subsidy, why was NSP initiated &, as worse, still continued? VASH, SSVF, among many grants & programs funded in response to resolve disparity, but heisted, exploited, & misappropriated by systemic corruption, cronyism, & kleptocracy among Veteran’s Administration city, county, state, & NGOs.
    7406840034
    facebook.com/groups/996044080457069?view=group

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