ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Krugman - Tax Policy Idiot?

Now, I'm a fan of Krugman when it comes to free trade. But his punditry on other issues leave something to be desired. Donald Luskin makes fun of Krugman's idiotic and ignorant claims about the Bush Tax Cuts over at NRO. Like Luskin, I love the smell of tax cuts in the morning.

Smells like Victory
The sweet fragrance of the Laffer curve versus the stench of Krugman’s tax-increase scheme.

In his New York Times column Tuesday, Paul Krugman complains that President Bush’s tax cuts have put the nation in a “fiscal quagmire.” America’s most dangerous liberal pundit says “we won’t get out of that quagmire until a future president admits that the Bush tax cuts were a mistake, and must be reversed.”

Now, consider reality. Take a look at the chart below, which tracks total federal tax receipts in trillions of dollars, year by year (source: Office of Management and Budget). Revenues peaked in 2000 with the last gasp of the 1990’s boom. They were in free-fall in 2001, 2002, and 2003. But you can’t blame the tax cuts for very much of that. It wasn’t until 2003 that any but a tiny fraction of Bush’s tax cuts were put into effect. After the cuts went into action, however, revenues have soared — and they are forecasted to reach all-time highs in a few short years.

Krugman snarls,
The usual suspects on the right are already declaring victory over the deficit, and proclaiming vindication for the Laffer Curve — the claim that tax cuts pay for themselves, because they have such a miraculous effect on the economy that revenue actually goes up.

Count me — and anyone else who’s seen this chart — as among “the usual suspects.” And as long as we’re making cinematic allusions, let me add that I love the smell of tax revenues in the morning. Smells like victory.

The best Krugman can do is forecast that the explosion of revenues in the wake of the 2003 tax cuts won’t last. Why? For one thing, Krugman claims that “the economy as a whole is, if anything, doing worse than one would expect at this stage of an economic recovery.”

Again, consider reality. Since the recession bottom in the fourth quarter of 2001, real GDP has grown 12 percent. That beats the 11 percent growth over the comparable period in the previous economic recovery — the one that began on Bill Clinton’s watch, which Krugman once called an “economic miracle.”

Krugman also frets that the revenues flowing into the U.S. Treasury are the wrong kind. Not enough revenue growth, he complains, is coming from taxes “tied to the number of jobs and the average wage, such as payroll taxes and income taxes.”

Consider reality: Personal withheld tax revenues are up 7.3 percent compared to last year, and social insurance and retirement receipts are up 6.4 percent (source: U.S. Treasury). Yes, there’s been even greater growth in corporate tax revenues. But why are corporate revenues the wrong kind of revenues?

And yes, there’s been a surge in non-withheld personal income-tax revenues, which Krugman guesses is mostly from capital gains. Why are those the wrong kind of revenues? Perhaps because slashing the capital-gains tax rate was the signature of Bush’s 2003 cuts; a surge in those revenues proves just how vindicated the adherents of the Laffer curve really are.

One wonders what kind of growth would be good enough for Krugman and the Democrats. Don’t kid yourself that they’d be satisfied even if George W. Bush left office, the 2003 tax cuts were repealed, and all deficits magically vanished. They won’t be satisfied until tax rates are raised to the point where government is seizing an unprecedented fraction of personal wealth. Krugman recently told an Asian newspaper,
We should be running surpluses ... We should be getting 28% of GDP [gross domestic product] in revenue. We are only collecting 17%.

Consider reality (and if you’re not used to thinking about tax revenues as a fraction of GDP, this reality will come as quite a shock). As the chart below shows, the federal government has never collected more than about 21 percent of GDP in taxes. Krugman wants it to collect 28 percent — even more than was collected at the very height of World War II.

What would government do with such money (assuming, fantastically, that the attempt to collect that much in tax dollars wouldn’t utterly destroy the economy)? Krugman has at least one idea. Both of his Times columns last week (here and here) were pleas to “put aside our anti-government prejudices” and “do something” about obesity — “America’s fastest-growing health problem.”

Something tells me Krugman hasn’t checked with Michael Moore or Teddy Kennedy about that particular idea for spending taxpayer money. They’ll have to work that out among themselves later.

For now, the first step is to seize every taxpayer dollar they can. Every time they talk about repealing the Bush tax cuts, that’s what they’re trying to do.

Every time taxes are cut, tax revenues to the Federal Treasury in nominal dollars increase. For some reason, the Left thinks this is a bad thing... you would think they would love all the new funds that they can use for their "important" programs. Krugman has GOT to be kidding if he thinks the Feds need 28% of GDP... GDP in 2004 was something like $11,000,000,000,000 (figured I'd put the zeros in for effect). That means Krugman wants $3,080,000,000,000 (or more assuming a growing economy) each year. Thanks to Bush's tax cuts, federal tax revenues are approaching $2.3 trillion.

Keep in mind that this guy is likely to get a Nobel prize for economics in the future.... despite this idiocy. Keep in mind that capital (ie money) goes to where it is most appreciated.

It seems that this man knew what the heck he was talking about when he drew this:

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Comments (2)
Anonymous said...

seem to be economically illiterate his first tax cut occured in 2001 right when revenues completly dropped out. Additionally he cut income taxes which have fallen far lower than they were immediatly preceding them. You have for some reason zoned in on his smaller 2003 tax cut and ignored the major drop of revenue from 01-03 not to mention every serious economist (not just those on the left) agrees that the tax cuts led to less revenue. Reagons precidency shows that if the laffer curve does in fact exist (which their is no credible evidence for) we are in fact on the left side of the curve anyways and so you make no sense.

Anonymous said...


economically ignorant? pot meet kettle. JGTRRA lowered cap gains tax in 2003. Hence the jump. You are really this ignorant? Or deliberately being disingenuous?