Bruce Bartlett

In its corporate wisdom, the New York Times recently decided to hide its most influential columnists behind a subscription wall.  Now, those who have been accustomed to reading the likes of Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd for free on the Internet will have to pay $50 per year for the privilege.

 To make this proposition more attractive, the Times promised that it would provide a little something extra for subscribers.  Apparently, this involves publishing articles by its editorial writers that are not good enough to appear in the print edition of the paper.

The first of these deals with taxation and appeared on Oct. 4.  It was written by Times editorial board member Teresa Tritch, who writes most of its economic editorials.  She lists her qualifications as having degrees in German and journalism, as well as years writing about personal finance for Money magazine—explaining why people should shop around for the lowest price before buying soap and things of that sort.

 What really qualifies Ms. Tritch to lecture the rest of us about tax policy is an absolute conviction that our tax system is tilted too much toward the rich.  To read her diatribe, one would think that the wealthy pay no taxes at all and that the tax burden falls almost entirely on the poor and middle class.  One would also come away thinking that taxes do not affect economic growth in any way.

According to Ms. Tritch, our tax system should serve one purpose and one purpose only—to soak the rich.  Any reduction in tax rates, especially on saving and investment, has nothing to do with raising growth, but is nothing but a give-away to the ultra-wealthy.  One can see now why she was hired by the Times despite a paucity of knowledge or experience in the field of economics.

The reality is that the wealthy pay almost all of the federal income tax and there is clear and compelling evidence that our tax system—especially its misguided redistributive elements—impose a heavy cost in terms of growth that is ultimately paid by the non-wealthy in the form of lower productivity and, hence, lower wages and incomes.

Bruce Bartlett

Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.

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