We have posted many times (here, for instance) that, despite contrary political rhetoric about high taxes, taxes in the U.S. are at historic lows. Eduardo Porter has now published this essay explaining that the supposed connection between low taxes and economic growth -- a basic premise of conservative U.S. thought for many years now -- is unproved. Here's an excerpt:
The argument [that low taxes equals ecomomic growth] has proved extraordinarily successful [politically]. Under Republican presidents, the top income tax rate fell as low as 28 percent, less than half the 70 percent level it was in 1980. The top corporate income tax rate was 46 percent when President Reagan took office. Today it is 35 percent. Taxes on investment income, which primarily flows to the wealthy, are even lower. In laying out his plan for a balanced budget by 2023, [Rep. Paul] Ryan has trotted out the same three elements of [former congressman Jack] Kemp’s formula: drastic curbs on spending, paring loopholes in unspecified ways and cutting tax rates even further, well below the roughly 40 percent top rate on income that was reintroduced by President Obama’s recent tax increase.... Problem is, there is little evidence that tax cutting has worked as advertised. Thomas L. Hungerford, an economist with the Congressional Research Service, got into trouble with Republicans last year when he published a study suggesting that the sharp drop in top tax rates since 1945 did little to lift economic growth but probably did contribute to soaring income inequality. And there’s no clear evidence that lower tax burdens have helped the United States grow faster than other advanced industrial nations with higher tax rates and much heavier tax burdens. Economic growth per person in the United States was a little faster than in France or Australia over the last 40 years. But it was a little slower than in Austria, Germany and the Netherlands, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a research organization for the world’s richest countries.