Bruce Bartlett On Tax Plan: Why Aren't People Marching In The Streets?

Joy Reid kicked off this segment today with a bit of pointed snark.

"Paul Ryan inched closer to his long time dream of reshaping the federal government in the image of an Ayn Rand novel. It was the House's most significant vote since the Obamacare repeal in May, which ultimately failed in Senate," she said.

This is about giving hard working taxpayers bigger paychecks. This is about giving those families who are struggling peace of mind. It's about getting this economy to grow faster so we get bigger wages, more jobs and we put America in the driver's seat in the global economy once again.

Reid reminded viewers that the tax plan "is taking money from the poor to give to the richest."

"Joining me is Bruce Bartlett. (Bartlett was one of Ronald Reagan's supply-side economic advisers.) Bruce, we were on Lawrence O'Donnell's show the other night when he said this was the most draconian tax increase on ordinary Americans and the biggest tax cut on the rich ever in history. Do you agree with that assessment?"

"That's exactly correct. Certainly there have been large tax increases on everyday Americans, especially during World War II," he said.

"But at the same time taxes were increased even more on the wealthy. There's never been a tax cut in American history in which taxes were raised on the poor to benefit the wealthy. In fact, I don't know of any other country that has done anything remotely like this," he said.

(I seem to remember Bruce's old boss paying for tax cuts for the wealthy by raising Social Security taxes on workers, but okay.)

"Is there any economic justification for permanently lowering the corporate tax rate and increasing taxes on low income Americans? Is there any economic justification for it?" Reid asked.

"There's a perfectly good justification for fixing the corporate side of the tax code, but it absolutely must be done in a revenue neutral manner by getting rid of corporate tax loopholes, not by raising taxes on individuals," Bartlett said.


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"This is perverse. It's insane. For the life of me, I don't understand why people aren't marching in the streets against this thing."

Reid said she wanted to talk about deficits -- you know, the thing Republicans used to care about? "There's been independent studies on what this tax plan does to the deficit. It shows that it actually reduce reduces revenues by $1.5-1.7 trillion. and adds 1.4 trillion dollar to the deficit by 2027.

Right now we have the highest corporate tax on effort, generating almost no revenue because people avoid the tax by moving factories to Ireland. If we fix that and make the U.S. an attractive place again that is going to help employee a hole in the deficit, it's just not economically rational.

"What do you make of what he said?"

"Kevin's a friend of mine, so I won't call him a liar to his face, but this is all total B.S. It's made up out of whole cloth," he said.

"Like I said, for one thing, he's lying when he says we have the highest corporate tax rate, because he's looking only at the statutory rate. The effective rate once you take into account tax exemptions and so on that corporations have, is about average for other countries of our size. and he's still insisting that the day we cut the corporate tax rate, you know, wages are going to suddenly jump up, when there's absolutely no historical evidence whatsoever that will happen.

"We cut the corporate tax rate by 12 percentage points in 1986. Does anybody remember a big pay raise in 1988? No. Because wages, in fact, fell. I'm not saying there's a cause and effect relationship, but the argument kevin is making is just full of holes."

"You were working in Republican politics and administrations when trickle-down economics was it for the Republican party," Reid reminded him.

"The argument that was made back in 1981 was that we needed to increase the production of goods and services because we had high inflation. But the idea that you would get any benefit whatsoever because of rich people going out and buying second and third yachts is just ludicrous. Besides, it would be morally abhorrent if that were the case," he said.

"The people who are most likely to spend are people living from hand to mouth. Namely, the poor and the middle class, who need every penny they get and will immediately go out and spend it. Rich people are just going to save the money and that's not even going to do any good because interest rates are already rock bottom."

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