Letter to the Editor: Tax lesson
BY Bradley C. Byers, Tulsa
Sunday, December 16, 2012
12/16/12 at 3:17 AM
Do you prefer facts or theories?
Why do conservative politicians believe cutting taxes for the rich brings economic growth? The Congressional Research Service studied 65 years of history and found that reducing the top tax rates did not increase growth but did make the top 1 percent of families richer.
According to Harvard historian Jill Lepore (New Yorker, Nov. 26), the top tax rate at the end of World War II was 94 percent. By 1981, when President Ronald Reagan became president, it had dropped to 70 percent. The capital gains tax was 35 percent. Promising to balance the budget by 1984, Reagan reformed the tax code (removing some deductions) and dropped the top rate to 28 percent.
Did he balance the budget? Well, no. He increased the national debt from $930 billion to $2.6 trillion, almost a three-fold increase. President Bill Clinton raised the top rate to 39.6 percent, and we enjoyed our longest period of economic growth in modern history. Four years of budget surplus reduced the total debt by 2.1 percent.
But President George W. Bush's conservatives changed that. They cut taxes and nearly doubled the national debt, from $5.7 trillion to $10.6 trillion. They also triggered the Great Recession.
The richest 1 percent did not suffer from the recession. They now own more than one-third of the nation's wealth. That's where they were in 1913, before the income tax began. They are the supposed "job creators" that conservatives want to protect from higher taxes. But where are the jobs?
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