Balkinization  

Friday, December 28, 2007

Are The Parties Dividing over Executive Power?

JB

This article by Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe, which Marty discussed last week, describes the positions of many of the major presidential candidates. For convenience, here are answers by Democrats Joseph Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson, and Republicans Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson.

It is worth noting that while the Democrats answered almost all of the questions posed to them, Giuliani, Huckabee and Thompson, three of the front runners, essentially avoided answering any of them (Giuliani gave a general response to the first question and would not go into specifics). Mitt Romney essentially gave answers out of Dick Cheney's playbook. My guess is that Giuliani (almost certainly, given his previous public statements) and likely also Huckabee and Thompson would probably support a strong executive. McCain's answers seem more moderate in some respects (e.g., torture) but not in others. Ron Paul, a libertarian, wants a far less powerful executive.

What can we infer from these responses? First, the Democrats think that attacking Bush's assertions of executive power is good politics; conversely, Republicans like Giuliani and Romney probably think that pushing for strong executive powers is appealing to parts of the Republican base.

Thus, it might seem that the two parties are beginning to divide over issues of executive power, just as they once began to divide over issues like abortion. Before the 1980 election, neither party was strongly identified as pro-choice or pro-life (recall that Jimmy Carter was the more pro-life candidate in 1976). After the 1980 election, the parties became identified with different sides of the abortion question as they key symbolic issue in the culture wars.

Nevertheless, matters are rarely so simple, and especially when the division is over a structural question like executive power rather than a substantive policy question like abortion or gay rights. I tend to think that in many respects the divide we are seeing over executive power between the two parties is symbolic more than substantive, and it may not survive a Democratic Administration.

First, many of the issues on which the parties divide are not really about executive power per se: they are about immigration, the war on terror, privacy and civil liberties. If the next President uses his powers to promote the rights of immigrants and aliens, or protect civil liberties, many liberal Democrats will probably argue that the President is well within his constitutional authority in making such decisions. Right now the Democratic candidates are opposed to signing statements, but it is worth pondering what they will do when the first big appropriations bill comes their way.

Second, much will depend on the result of the 2008 elections. Right now Republican presidential candidates are arguing for a strong executive because they expect (or at least hope for) a Republican to be President in 2009. But if the Republicans lose the Presidency, they will be unlikely to continue to press for strong Presidential powers (they did not when Clinton was in office, for example); they are even less likely to do so if the Democrats control the Presidency and both Houses of Congress.

It is true that many Republicans (with the exception of Ron Paul) are hoping that the War on Terror will be a signature issue that binds their coalition together; they would like to establish themselves as the party that is more devoted to wiping out the threat of terrorism. That may lead them to support a strong executive when Republicans are in power, but it may not produce consistent support for presidential prerogatives when Democrats occupy the White House, especially if Democratic Presidents do not exercise these prerogatives in a way conservatives like. Republicans will probably continue to support domestic surveillance measures and laws that strengthen the Executive Branch's ability to detain and deport aliens. But they will not be particularly interested in protecting executive secrecy per se; indeed, as during the Clinton years, they may want to prevent a Democratic President from using claims of Presidential privilege to avoid embarrassing disclosures.

Conversely if the next President is a Democrat, he or she may make symbolic gestures toward a greater balance between the President and Congress, and will probably clean house at the Justice Department, but it is unlikely that the next President will actually cede most of the new powers that the Bush Administration grabbed for itself. Rather, the next Administration will likely offer a less pugnacious and bellicose tone while continuing many of the same policies, often through different legal methods.

In particular, if the Democrats control the Presidency and both Houses of Congress, the President may try to work with Congress to achieve many of the same things that the Bush Administration tried to do unilaterally. (Indeed, when Congress goes along, the President's power as commander-in-chief is enhanced under the Youngstown analysis, not diminished.). Assuming that the next President will have publicly ditched the Cheney/Addington/Yoo theory of the President as dictator, this will mean a less powerful Executive in theory but not necessarily in practice.

Indeed, one lesson of the Bush Administration may be that future Presidents learn that they can increase their practical authority by working with Congress with far less political resistance. ( The irony of the Cheney/Addington/Yoo theory was always that it created unnecessary pushback and thus actually undermined the quiet expansion of Executive authority.) Sandy Levinson and I have argued that we are gradually moving from a national security state to a national surveillance state, with greatly increased delegations of power to the executive to collect, collate, and analyze information for purposes of everyday governance. We also predict that all of the branches will participate in the creation of such a state; the real issue will be how the state will be constructed, whether there will be sufficient checks and institutional structures to protect civil liberties, and so on. An Executive who works with Congress to build up the national surveillance state is still a much more powerful Executive, even if from a theoretical perspective the President has given up the Cheney/Addington/Yoo theory of Article II.

Third, we must distinguish the party system, its politicians, and its political operatives from particular liberal or conservative intellectuals and legal theorists associated with the two major political parties. Party operatives, pundits, and politicians are used to changing their arguments about structural matters (Presidential power, federalism, judicial restraint) on a dime, with few worries about consistency over time. So it is possible that a Republican Congressman in 1999 could attack Bill Clinton for bombing Kosovo, flip to become an ardent defender of George Bush's powers in 2004 and then flip back to becoming a critic of Presidential power in 2009 under a Hillary Clinton Presidency. By contrast, legal theorists and intellectuals will have much greater difficulty doing this sort of flip because their professional reputations tend to be based on their intellectual consistency over time, although one expects there will be a fair number who will make the attempt.

A Clinton or Obama or Edwards Presidency will probably produce a number of liberal intellectuals who were quite happy making arguments for a strong executive during the Clinton years and would be happy doing so again. It is also worth remembering that Bill Clinton was no great friend of civil liberties during his two terms in office-- although George W. Bush has made him look good by comparison on that score-- and that Clinton engaged in one of the most significant acts of Presidential unilateralism in recent memory-- engaging in airstrikes on Kosovo in a war against Yugoslavia without Congressional authorization. All of these decisions were supported by lawyers in the Clinton Justice Department, which suggests that there are plenty of liberal Democrats willing and able to argue for fairly robust Presidential power if the occasion calls for it.

Readers of this blog presumably are aware that, all other things being equal, I would rather have a Democrat in the White House in 2009; I think the last seven years have been dreadful for the country and it is time to clean house. But precisely for that reason, I think it important to keep a new Democratic Administration honest when it comes to excesses of power and violations of civil liberties, because, for the reasons described above, it has every incentive to make only symbolic reforms.

Perhaps I am being too pessimistic: It is possible that the last seven years have really taught the Democrats something about the dangers of Executive authority. But it is also possible that once in office, they will forget many of those lessons.

Comments:

I agree with the gist, but I've got one question about this:

But if the Republicans lose the Presidency, they will be unlikely to continue to press for strong Presidential powers (they did not when Clinton was in office, for example); they are even less likely to do so if the Democrats control the Presidency and both Houses of Congress.

While many Republicans will, as you suggest, flip back to the Dan Burton model on oversight and presidential privileges on secrecy if there's a Democratic president, it has occurred to me that on presidential powers to prosecute the campaign against Al Qaeda, Republicans in Congress may actually be inclined to give more and more powers to the president, strategizing that a Democratic president will be resistant to the most far-reaching powers but will be disinclined to fight them in the legislative debate; will tend not to exercise the most far-reaching powers; can thus be effectively blamed for timidity if and when there is another attack; and the fallback position in any case is that a variety of expansive executive powers will have been established legislatively for the next Republican president to take up. Obviously, a lot depends on specifics, but given the legislation that has passed under both Republican and Democratic control in the last year of eighteen months, it's easy for me to imagine the Republicans in Congress pressing for all sorts of problematic legislation expanding executive power even with a Democratic president, and Democrats being as effective at producing alternative wise legislative outcomes as they usually are.
 

From the movie, “The Big Chill”—

Michael: I don't know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They're more important than sex.

Sam Weber: Ah, come on. Nothing's more important than sex.

Michael: Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?

No, the parties are not dividing over Executive Power - the individuals involved will rationalize how to make it work for them and to their individual advantage. Whoever is elected will use every rhetorical trick in the book to justify any power grab via signing statements. In a politician's mind power is everything. To think otherwise is the height of naiveté.
 

Professor Balkin:

Thank you for the insightful commentary. You are almost certainly correct that Mr. Bush's restoration of executive powers to a pre 1974 level are likely to be exercised by future Presidents regardless of their party or public rhetoric. It is also hard to argue the fact that politicians will display false and hypocritical outrage over the actions of a President of the opposite party.

I would suggest, though, that the liberal conservative split over civil liberties is more a function of their view of war than anything else. Liberals generally oppose the war and wish to treat the captured enemy as if they were citizen criminal defendants. Conversely, conservatives generally support the war and do not wish to extend any rights to the enemy.

On the other hand, if the government actually turned the TSP and the CIA coercive interrogation methods against a substantial number of American citizens, I believe that both liberals and conservatives would be very upset. (I realize the suspicions on the left that the government is doing just that, but there is no substantive evidence to back up these claims.) For example, you may recall how upset conservatives were over the FBI setting up Randy Weaver in Idaho on a bogus sawed off shotgun charge and then essentially executing his family in a siege of his home. Then there was the massacre at Waco.

In sum, conservatives have no problem with the government turning the TSP on al Qaeda and waterboarding KSM, but Mr. Bush would be impeached in a heartbeat with conservative support if he used the TSP to monitor the NYT phones or if he waterboarded James Risen to find the leakers in the CIA.
 

It is true that we have not heard so much serious discussion of abuse of power since 1974/Nixon and Prof. Balkin makes some very interesting points.

I would add the candidates views on Executive Power are a good reflection of what kind of president they will be.

Considering that Bush arrogations of power have been used for illegal detentions, illegal surveillance, illegal wars, torture and stonewalling Congress, the more warmly a candidate embraces Bush's powers is a good indication of how willing they are to detain, surveille, torture and stonewall.
 

My theory above may explain why Ron Paul has been getting donations out the wazoo.
 

Garth Sullivan said...

My theory above may explain why Ron Paul has been getting donations out the wazoo.


Ron Paul's success may be indicate he knows how to use the internet for campaigning purposes. A professional wrestler won the governorship in Minnesota largely because he managed to successfully use the internet to campaign.
 

Bitswapper,

I disagree. All the candidates have roughly equivalent internet campaigns. The difference lies in enthusiasm.

The Hulkster may have run a smart campaign, but people still voted for him, most likely out of disgust with the alternatives.

Sounds a lot like Paul supporters and supportive of my hypothesis.
 

garth sullivan said...

My theory above may explain why Ron Paul has been getting donations out the wazoo..

Paul's popularity among the netroots conspiracy theorists has nothing to do with fancy executive power theory and everything to do with his loopy blame America first views. This says more about the internet and the so called netroots than it does about Paul's general popularity among voters

This extremely unserious conspiracy theorist not only attributed al Qaeda's 9/11 attack to Clinton Administration bombing of Iraq's WMD sites, but now claims that US Iraq policy forced al Qaeda to assassinate Bhutto.

No wonder that Paul, like Howard "The Scream" Dean, found a home among the fellow conspiracy theorists on the web when they have nearly no following among actual voters.

Paul was one of the wingnuts in the Libertarian Party which caused me to leave for the GOP. Unfortunately, Paul followed me here. :::sigh::: Well, at least no one can say we are not a big tent party. In any case, Paul does make a nice foil for Rudy and the others.
 

which caused me to leave for the GOP

I'll bet the GOP is just thrilled with that turn of events.

For you to be calling anyone a wingnut is quite comical.
 

Garth Sullivan said...

I disagree. All the candidates have roughly equivalent internet campaigns.


I'm not so certain. He makes a favorable showing on several news aggregators and in the discussions found there. Still, just stating that all candidate have equivalent internet campaigns seems like something of a blanket statement.

The Hulkster may have run a smart campaign, but people still voted for him, most likely out of disgust with the alternatives.

You're think of Jesse Ventura, and it was in part being fed up with alternatives.
 

LOL!!

Well, there it is, then.
 

bitswapper,

he's showing up on news aggregators because he is making news due to growing support.

it's his stand on the war, his populism and no credible alternative that is responsible for his fundraising success.

superior use of the internet is not.
 

now paul's supporters may be more internet savy than most as a class, but, that's a different matter.

it bears repeating that a majority of America supports the "netsroot" agenda.
 

"By contrast, legal theorists and intellectuals will have much greater difficulty doing this sort of flip because their professional reputations tend to be based on their intellectual consistency over time, although one expects there will be a fair number who will make the attempt."

You're far more sanguine about the state of conservative legal theorism and intellectualism than I'd be, and a bit more sanguine about the nonconservative varietals as well. Conservative intellectualism is pretty much dead these days, seeming to define itself largely purely in opposition to liberalism, and to the extent that conservatives believe the intellectual state of liberalism or the power held by liberals to be ephemeral and changing, conservative intellectualism will morph, without any consistency, before your very eyes.

Conservative legal theory has always been a particularly empty vessel. From various brands of constitutional originalism to the imposition of the Chicago school on legal economic analysis, the distinguishing characteristic of conservative legal theory has always been that it allows its wielder to come to any conclusion desired while maintaining airs of objectivity and consistency. Conservative originalists will switch the level of generality of their "analyses" on a dime when they no longer like their conclusions; Chicago practitioners will rediscover externalities, transaction costs, and collective action problems with a vengeance when nonconservatives control the legislative and executive branches.

Of course, these types of problems exist outside of conservatism, but conservatism holds them dear and institutionalizes them. Conservative legal analysts and intellectuals are simply not valued in academia, punditry, or politics for the consistency of their conclusions; they're valued for the ability to draw any conclusion that happens to bolster the current fight for conservatives' supremacy from rhetorical and pseudointellectual structures that allow the appearance of consistency without any actuality thereof.
 

robert:

Conservative intellectualism is pretty much dead these days, seeming to define itself largely purely in opposition to liberalism...

Reality is quite the reverse.

You are living in a nation where conservative (really classical liberal) philosophy is applied routinely and liberalism is nearly always reactionary, an echo of conservatism.

Conservative tax policy is faithfully based on supply side theory. The liberal public response also calls for tax cuts for most people (even though they rarely deliver in reality) with slightly tax increases for only the wealthy who do not vote for them. No current lib would consider calling for an 1950s level punitive progressive tax system.

The conservative theory of regulating through market mechanisms is the policy of the country. Indeed, the greens have taken to this theory with gusto with carbon credits and the like.

Conservative trust theory is the policy of the country. The last lib gasp at trust busting was the failed lawsuit against Microsoft.

Conservative free trade theory is the policy of this country. Liberal calls for "fair trade" are simply free trade light. No one is talking about protectionism except for Pat Buchanan.

Conservative originalism is now being accepted as the base approach to constitutional interpretation. Liberal academics who post here and elsewhere are debating how they can apply originalism to achieve liberal goals.

Neoconservative "unilateral" deployment of the military to achieve political goals is hardly limited to the GOP. The last Dem President also unilaterally deployed the military to achieve his ends (albeit half heartedly). Dem members of congress join the GOP members in large bipartisan majorities to approve military interventions. 70s era liberal isolationism has been a small minority position since Reagan.

The last US liberal intellectual movement was the New Left in the 60s and 70s. It was an echo of EU democratic socialism calling for government control over a privately owned economy, redistribution of wealth and international pacifism.

Reagan changed the entire mindset of the country to repudiate every pillar of New Left/EU theory in favor of a movement returning to economic classical liberalism and FDR style internationalism.

Today's liberals also repudiate the EU model. What passes for liberalism these days are echos of conservative policy positions or, at the worst, mindless opposition to whatever Mr. Bush proposes, even if they would normally support the policy being advanced by the President.

The Europeans, not to mention Nader and other more insightful observers on the American left, correctly observe that there is no fundamental difference between our parties. They both pursue what the continental Euros call the Anglo-American liberal model.

I would suggest that you are so used to living in a country run by conservative theory that you hardly realize it.
 

Oy vey, Bart.

"Conservative tax policy is faithfully based on supply side theory."

Conservative tax policy is nonexistent. Policy is by definition responsive, intended to influence, and tax cuts are, to the conservative, a matter of base faith for which responsiveness is deemed heresy. Conservative tax ideology is based on antiempirical and thoroughly discredited conceptions of supply side economics that utterly discard any legitimacy supply side theory had in the first place. Vacuous ideology has nothing to do with policy or intellectual consistency; quite the opposite. The hallmark of conservative tax ideology is to call for the same solution regardless of the problem. Demanding universal consistency of action is incompatible in the real world with having consistency of reasoning and is the very definition of anti-intellectualism.

If you dig at all into the conservative psyche, you'll find that the current anti-tax mania is rooted in opposition to liberalism. It's rooted in the desire to drown liberal government in the bathtub. It doesn't do a particularly good job of achieving that result, mind you, and that goal has long been discarded in favor of a base presumption that lower taxes are always better taxes--except when they can be called fees, or fines, or tolls, or payroll deductions, or future obligations of debt repayment, etc., but that's another story--but that goal is the genesis of the up-is-downinsm that constitutes current conservative tax ideology.

"The conservative theory of regulating through market mechanisms is the policy of the country."

Conservative theories of regulation wouldn't recognize markets if the markets bit conservatives on their collective asses. Again, the conservative theories of regulation aren't policy but rather base presumptions where deviation is heresy.

Conservatism demands that markets be fundamentally misunderstood. Conservative regulatory ideology ignores transaction costs, collective action problems, externalities of costs and benefits, and just about any other market failure you can imagine. Markets can not be judged for their efficiency or achievement of any other policy goal without proper consideration of their failures, and empirical economic theory is incompatible with the notion that government regulation is inherently incapable of encouraging failing markets to model markets in which failures are less frequent and severe.

Even under a pure and simplified utilitarian theory of wealth maximization being the only legitimate goal of government economic policy, the antiregulatory deathmarch of conservatism doesn't hold water. Under more complex and nuanced theories of economic policy conservative antiregulatory hogwash doesn't even pass the laugh test. There's no genuine intellectual basis for conservative deragulatory mania, no economic theory under which it makes even the slightest whit of sense.

The only basis for conservative defamation of all things regulatory is rank illiberalism manifestly disconnected from empirical economic theory. Conservatives, in their rush to regurgitate antiregulatory sputum, set themselves up in pure opposition to the very idea of economics, and genuinely empirical economic theories are both classically and contemporarily liberal. Economics is the theory of collective and interactive action, and conservative regulatory ideology, held as axiom and not subject to the vagaries that define reasoned policy, resolves to the belief that collective action and interactive effects just don't matter and can never be taken into consideration.

I'd go on, but I've had enough of talking over the head of a mental midget for one day.
 

Garth Sullivan said...

now paul's supporters may be more internet savy than most as a class, but, that's a different matter.

it bears repeating that a majority of America supports the "netsroot" agenda.


I think you have a good point about paul's supporters being more internet savvy. Just what is the "netsroot" agenda?
 

robert:

Your original argument was that today's conservatism is not moored to a set of intellectual theories and is instead reactionary to liberalism.

As an example, you further argue that conservative tax policy is nonexistent. However, your belief (against all evidence) that supply side theory does work does not mean that supply side is not a taxation theory or that Bush's marginal tax rate cuts are not faithful to that theory.

Moreover, the fact that supply side theory is the antithesis to the liberal punitive progressive tax theory does not make it reactionary. Reactionary politics is when you have no loyalty to an underlying theory and will support the opposite of whatever your political opponents propose, even when your opponent supports programs which you would normally support.

A good example of a mindlessly reactionary approach was the Dems knee jerk opposition to Mr. Bush's liberal expansion of government in his first term, even though Dems would normally salivate at a 28% increase in government spending.

This is not a partisan attack. When liberalism was ascendant before Reagan, the GOP was basically a reactionary organization. The positions have changed since Reagan and the ascendancy of conservatism. I am sure the ascendancy will change back someday, but hopefully after I am long gone. I enjoy making money and being a citizen of the world's preeminent power. I have no desire to imitate the stagnation of the EU.

Finally, juvenile name calling does not exactly recommend your argument. Rather, it appears that you are trying to divert from a losing argument.
 

bitswapper,

the netsroot agenda is largely populist.

an end to war, torture and illegal surveillance. money for education, infrastructure and healthcare.

Anti-corruption, good government.

Ron may not be a particularly compelling candidate, but his platform of ending the war and presumed anti-corruption stance resonates with people.

Huckabee is promising to deliver the money for education, infrastructure and healthcare, anti-corruption and good government, and will probably deliver on ending the war.

He is a much smoother politician and promising to deliver the whole package and that's why he is leading in the polls.

To be honest with you, even with all Huckabee's bagage, I would vote for him in a heartbeat over Hillary who is too hawkish on foreign policy and too timid on domestic.
 

As an example, you further argue that conservative tax policy is nonexistent. However, your belief (against all evidence) that supply side theory does work does not mean that supply side is not a taxation theory or that Bush's marginal tax rate cuts are not faithful to that theory.

OK, some facts then.... How about $9 trillion?!?!?

Cheers,
 

"'As an example, you further argue that conservative tax policy is nonexistent. However, your belief (against all evidence) that supply side theory does work does not mean that supply side is not a taxation theory or that Bush's marginal tax rate cuts are not faithful to that theory.'

OK, some facts then.... How about $9 trillion?!?!?"

Not a bad example. Imposition of a future obligation to pay is, of course, functionally speaking as much of an imposition of financial obligation as is imposition of a currently collected tax. It's just better hidden and easier to wish away, with, in the case of national debt, the added "virtue" of not having the need to determine a priori upon whom the burden of paying will eventually fall--which itself may end up remaining hidden even after the debt is paid through that other hidden tax of overly inflationary policies--so that you can continue to claim that it imposes nothing on any particular individuals. I'm pretty sure I made this explicitly clear in my previous post (under conservative tax ideology "lower taxes are always better taxes--except when they can be called . . . future obligations of debt repayment") although Bart seems to, no surprise, have missed it.
 

arne langsetmo said...

BD: As an example, you further argue that conservative tax policy is nonexistent. However, your belief (against all evidence) that supply side theory does work does not mean that supply side is not a taxation theory or that Bush's marginal tax rate cuts are not faithful to that theory.

OK, some facts then.... How about $9 trillion?!?!?


What exactly does the $9 trillion in what I am presuming is federal government debt have to do with the supply side effect of Mr. Bush's marginal tax rate cuts? Since those tax cuts in 2003, added revenue has been flooding into the federal government.

The problem is not a lack of tax revenues. Rather, the problem is spending in excess of those revenues.

In any case, it appears that the point I was actually making in the above post has been made.
 

"Bart" DePalma:

What exactly does the $9 trillion in what I am presuming is federal government debt have to do with the supply side effect of Mr. Bush's marginal tax rate cuts? Since those tax cuts in 2003, added revenue has been flooding into the federal government.

I could ask just as fairly what those tax cuts have to do with the (alleged) "added revenue [that] has been flooding into the federal government". So out with it, Mr. Laffer.

But here's some pretty pik'churs fer ya.

Yep, looks like those SS-lovers Dubya and Raygun were the "borrow-and-spend" champs, and that Clinton, with some modest tax increases, managed to actually balanced the budget....

I'd have to agree with Robert that it's kind of pointless discussing this with a RW apologist pinhead, though.

In any case, it appears that the point I was actually making in the above post has been made.

What point was that? That you're a Dubya-butt-sucking eedjit?

Cheers,
 

FWIW, "supply side economics" is what you get when you have a 'solution' looking for a 'problem'. Republicans want lower taxes, so they have to get some bozo to tell them -- against all common sense and evidence -- that lower taxes means more revenue (and thus that there's no externalities, or even positive ones, to their greed). Needless to say, Arthur Laffer was denied the prize he so justly deserved; the only Nobel he's been in consideration for is the Ig Nobel prize.

Unfortunately, both common sense and evidence are things that escape the True Believers, who are more than content to rape the country (as well as environment and planet), grab whatever they can, and leave our grand-children (and theirs, but they don't think that far) holding the bag).

Time to throw the bastards out, and keep them far from any position of political responsibility for as many generations as it takes to clean up their messes....

Cheers,
 

arne langsetmo said...

I could ask just as fairly what those tax cuts have to do with the (alleged) "added revenue [that] has been flooding into the federal government". So out with it, Mr. Laffer.

1) Cut marginal tax rates.

2) Economic growth increases.

3) Slightly smaller slice of a much larger pie = increased tax revenues.

This has happened every single time it has been tried - 20s, 60s, 80s and Naughts.

FWIW, "supply side economics" is what you get when you have a 'solution' looking for a 'problem'. Republicans want lower taxes, so they have to get some bozo to tell them -- against all common sense and evidence -- that lower taxes means more revenue (and thus that there's no externalities, or even positive ones, to their greed)

Quiz time. Which President stated:

''Our true choice is not between tax reduction, on the one hand, and the avoidance of large Federal deficits on the other. It is increasingly clear that, no matter what party is in power, so long as our national security needs keep rising, an economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough revenue to balance the budget - just as it will never produce enough jobs or enough profits.

''In short, it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low - and the soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut rates now.''

 

1) Cut marginal tax rates.

2) Economic growth increases.

3) Slightly smaller slice of a much larger pie = increased tax revenues.


You left out: 4) National Debt increases.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

"Bart" DePalma:

[Arne]: I could ask just as fairly what those tax cuts have to do with the (alleged) "added revenue [that] has been flooding into the federal government". So out with it, Mr. Laffer.

1) Cut marginal tax rates.

2) Economic growth increases.

3) Slightly smaller slice of a much larger pie = increased tax revenues.


Non causa pro causa. Another logical fallacy from the master. Keep it up, "Bart", and maybe you'll hit 'em all.

Now care to answer the question?

Cheers,
 

bb:

National debt increases have nothing to do with tax rate reductions. There was no increase in national debt after the 20s decrease. The other post tax cut periods each had spending on wars (Vietnam, Cold War and WOT) which exceeded the increase in revenues.

arne:

BD: 1) Cut marginal tax rates.

2) Economic growth increases.

3) Slightly smaller slice of a much larger pie = increased tax revenues.

arne: Non causa pro causa


Non cause pro causa is claiming without evidence that one coincidental event caused another. There is ample proof for my syllogism based on four major reductions of marginal tax rates.

Indeed, the latest example during the Bush Administration is a text book case of the difference between Keynsian tax cuts meant to provide tax payers extra money to spend to juice damand and supply side reductions of marginal tax rates meant to increase the creation of wealth.

In 2001, Bush was only able to obtain Keynsian tax rebates which did not decrease actual marginal tax rates. The economy and tax revenues remained stagnant.

In the Summer of 2003, Bush was able to reduce marginal tax rates. The economy and tax revenues exploded by the highest rates since, you guessed it, the post tax cut periods of the 80s.
 

The economy and tax revenues exploded by the highest rates since, you guessed it, the post tax cut periods of the 80s.

As did the national debt. Are you beginning to see the connection?
 

bb:

The deficit nearly disappeared by the end of the Reagan and Bush Administrations despite the war spending because of surging tax revenues. Bush is well on his way to getting to surplus by 2009.
 

["Bart" DePalma]: The deficit nearly disappeared by the end of the Reagan and Bush Administrations despite the war spending because of surging tax revenues. Bush is well on his way to getting to surplus by 2009.

Pile'o'crap. See here. And from here:

1980 -73.8 (Billion)
1981 -79.0
1982 -128.0
1983 -207.8
1984 -185.4
1985 -212.3
1986 -221.2
1987 -149.7
1988 -155.2
1989 -152.6
1990 -221.0
1991 -269.2
1992 -290.3

Here's some more number crunching on the "Reagan miracle".

Please, stop making sh*te up, "Bart". Thanks in advance.

Cheers,
 

arne:

Raw numbers are misleading without context.

The Reagan deficits to finance the rebuilding of the military which led to winning the Cold War plunged from 6.3 of GDP in 1983 to 3.0% of GDP in 1989, about the same percentage of GDP the Carter Administration left without rebuilding the military. The deficit was headed to zero after 1989 because of the peace dividend until Bush decided to bail out the S&Ls.

Mr. Bush's present deficit of about $160 billion is a far lower percentage of a much larger economy and is falling about $100 billion per year.

Once again, deficits arise from the government spending even more than the surging tax revenues it receives. Revenues increased from $599.3 billion in 1981 to $990.7 billion in 1989. However, spending increased from $678.2 billion in 1981 to $1,143.2 billion in 1989.

Deficit facts[sic]:

If the United States raised its tax rates to the level of Germany's, it could not only wipe out the deficit, but eliminate poverty in America.


The United States had similar tax rates to Germany prior to the Reagan reforms. The result was the Carter recession, low tax revenues, deficits and far higher poverty. You eliminate poverty by creating wealth, not punishing wealth creation.

Almost all mainstream economists believe that, until now, the U.S. debt has been a minor problem requiring no immediate action. But they also point out that when the Baby Boomers start retiring in 2010, a worsened debt will combine with our Social Security problems to form a major financial crisis.

Our debt is low compared to most of the industrialized world and is causing no problems in the world's most dynamic economy. The naysayers have been wrong for decades.

The government recouped all of the costs plus change of the 80s military buildup to win the Cold War by drawing down the military until 9/11. However, once again, the government spent all of the peace dividend and far more until the 94 Congress slowed the rate of increase in spending and created a short lived surplus.

On the other hand, the unfunded mandates of Social Security and Medicare will make our debt far higher than it has been historically.
 

"Bart" DePalma soldiers on with his Mighty Wurlitzer song:

Raw numbers are misleading without context.

The Reagan deficits to finance the rebuilding of the military which led to winning the Cold War plunged from 6.3 of GDP in 1983 to 3.0% of GDP in 1989, about the same percentage of GDP the Carter Administration left without rebuilding the military. The deficit was headed to zero after 1989 because of the peace dividend until Bush decided to bail out the S&Ls.


"We woulda won that game if they hadn't scored those three touchdowns on us.... We woulda, I tell ya....."

Yeah, when the raw numbers don't say what you want, just make some more whining sh*te up....

Mr. Bush's present deficit of about $160 billion is a far lower percentage of a much larger economy and is falling about $100 billion per year.

See first link above. Compare and contrast to the end of Clinton's term (in same graph). Maybe unbeknownst to us, Clinton heavily slashed taxes towards the end of his term ... oh, wait....

Once again, deficits arise from the government spending even more than the surging tax revenues it receives. Revenues increased from $599.3 billion in 1981 to $990.7 billion in 1989. However, spending increased from $678.2 billion in 1981 to $1,143.2 billion in 1989.

Not inflation adjusted. Not as a ratio of GDP. Your point?

Here's some more pic'chers fer ya.

Deficit facts[sic]:

If the United States raised its tax rates to the level of Germany's, it could not only wipe out the deficit, but eliminate poverty in America.

The United States had similar tax rates to Germany prior to the Reagan reforms. The result was the Carter recession, low tax revenues, deficits and far higher poverty.


And your actual figures and evidence for this? Argument by assertion ad nauseam is hardly persuasive.

... You eliminate poverty by creating wealth, not punishing wealth creation.

"A rising tide lifts all boats", eh? Yep, trite adages and $3.20 will buy you a latte at Starbucks.

Almost all mainstream economists believe that, until now, the U.S. debt has been a minor problem requiring no immediate action. But they also point out that when the Baby Boomers start retiring in 2010, a worsened debt will combine with our Social Security problems to form a major financial crisis.

Your evidence for this?

Our debt is low compared to most of the industrialized world and is causing no problems in the world's most dynamic economy. The naysayers have been wrong for decades.

Doesn't change the fact that Clinton balanced the budget, and Dubya's blowing it for our grandchildren....

The government recouped all of the costs plus change of the 80s military buildup to win the Cold War by drawing down the military until 9/11....

Huh?!?!? Look, "argument by repeated assertion" (particularly from you, who are so often simply wrong about sh*te) is hardly persuasive. You want to repeat your assertions endlessly, do it on your own blog where those that can truly appreciate such tactics will stand in awe.

... However, once again, the government spent all of the peace dividend and far more until the 94 Congress slowed the rate of increase in spending and created a short lived surplus.

Hate to say it, but the main reason for the surplus was the very strong economic growth during the Clinton terms.

On the other hand, the unfunded mandates of Social Security and Medicare will make our debt far higher than it has been historically.

A separate issue. SS is "off-the-books" WRT the deficit (outside of being a cheap supply of cash to finance gummint profligacy).

Cheers,
 

Bart, Arne (and friends)- your debate demonstrates one thing. Nobody actually cares about executive power.
 

Raw numbers are misleading without context.

Translation: The numbers don't support my claims, so I'm going to coat them in raw bullshit.
 

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