What history seems to forget is the absolute fact Ronald Reagan tripled the gross national debt. So many modern “conservatives” want to remember President Reagan as the father of conservativism and as a deft fiscal genius.
Unfortunately, this is much too far from the truth. With the help of Arthur Laffer, Reagan came into office with Trickle Down Economics (called Voodoo Economics by his primary opponent George H.W. Bush). The concept was that massive tax cuts for the wealthiest, for corporations and for windfall inheritances would each pay for themselves when all this money gets magically “reinvested” in the U.S. economy. Unfortunately for us, it never was. In fact, Reagan then raised taxes five consecutive times, the largest tax increases in U.S. history. Despite these increases, the national debt rose from $900 billion to more than $2.7 trillion, more debt increase than every previous post-war president combined.
Reagan also increased defense spending substantially with no offsets to pay for his “Star Wars” program. The reasonable cuts he promised never materialized. We also can thank this president for the 1983 legislation which increased Social Security taxes, started taxing Social Security earned benefits and then placing these new revenues into the general fund to offset the massive revenue shortfalls.
Brilliantly, Gov. Sam Brownback revised this exact same policy by using state money to pay the same Art Laffer to develop his Kansas experiment, a carbon copy of Reagan’s failed fiscal policy. The result, well, we all know. Brownback, in turn, has borrowed against state pensions, the highway fund and our public education — and still he hasn’t balanced the budget. He also gave his approval to the federal plan.
Throughout history, the true engine of our economy, or any economy, has been consumption. Real people consume products and services when they have money they can spend on them. This increases production, increases jobs, increases wages and spurs even more consumption. Tax cuts work, but never the way they are rolled out. Modern Republicans campaign on just this, but once in office, the only tax cuts to ever get passed coincidentally benefit those political donors who got them elected.
Congressman Roger Marshall campaigned hard on Trickle Down economics, arguing the whole way that we needed to get corporate tax rates down to 15 percent, coincidentally the same rate being asked for by both the speaker of the house and the president. “We need this to stay competitive,” they each declare. Never mind the fact our corporate profits are at unprecedented highs, executive compensation never ever has been so generous, all while domestic jobs keep finding their way either outsourced or automated. None of the proposals on the table offer even one removal of those “corporate loophole/backdoor deals,” or a single requirement to hire domestically, or the slightest incentive to repatriate potentially trillions of tax haven dollars.
They also do nothing to prevent inversions or even slow the large corporate consolidations. In fact, the House keeps trying to find ways to put even more money in the hands of their corporate sponsors, even by funneling massive profits to them in a health-care overhaul. But those politicians just can’t wait to run this gimmick again, this time, in the interest of “fairness” or to the benefit of “the average Kansan.”
Marshall ran on this platform, so it should come as no surprise he’s pushing it. He also ran as an outsider who would fight for the regular Kansans and go to Washington to be “your voice.” It didn’t take him long to find out what the establishment was and how to succeed with them.
That “I’ll-fight-for-you” pledge, voters should really stop and think about just who he was actually talking to.
Alan LaPolice, Clyde, is a former
Independent candidate for the First Congressional District.