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The Paradox of Lafferism

By Matthew Yglesias  

"The Paradox of Lafferism"

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Andrew Samwick has a good question for proponents of the view (I heard it this morning from Karl Rove on Fox News, and it went unchallenged by any of the hosts) that the Bush tax cuts raised revenue: “then why not keep cutting them until the point at which revenues actually begin to fall?”

So the next question is simply, “What do the experts on your staff tell you that the top marginal tax rate should be in order to maximize tax revenues, leaving everything else about the tax code the same?” Journalists should relentlessly ask it of the Republican leadership in Congress who continue to make fallacious claims, and the Democratic leadership in Congress ought to ask it politely in a letter to CBO Director Doug Elmendorf.

A related issue, I suppose, is what’s the motivation supposed to be for progressive opposition to tax cuts. Do liberals secretly hate government spending and want to starve the state of the revenue we need to finance it? Intellectual errors happen all the time, of course, but this would be a real whopper.

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