The latest budget data confirm once again what I've been saying for the last 30 years: Cutting tax rates in the right way clears jobs and boosts economic revenues. On the other hand, attempting to revive economic growth by just "putting money in people's pockets" through tax credits, deductions and rebates not only fails to increase growth but also creates disincentives to work, save and invest, which ends up costing the government lost revenues.
The historical record couldn't be clearer. The Kennedy tax-rate reductions that triggered the prosperity of the 1960s and produced a windfall of government revenues indeed ended up helping balance the budget in 1964-65. Federal revenues doubled in the 1980s as a result of the Reagan tax-rate cuts. Today the evidence continues to mount that the Bush tax-rate reductions of 2003 also got the economy moving again and are leading to increased federal revenues.
The most compelling evidence comes from the latest Congressional Budget Office monthly report, which shows the totals for the first eight months of fiscal 2005 and tells us most of the story for the whole year. The most notable figure in the CBO report is that corporate income tax receipts are up a stunning 47.5 percent this year. Individual income taxes are also up sharply this year, leaping 20.5 percent over last year.
This is powerful evidence that the investment tax cuts - lowering the tax rate on dividends and capital gains and allowing an increase in the amount of investment spending that businesses may write off in the first year - breathed life back into financial markets, drove a broad revival of American business and increased personal income.
It could not be clearer: Where government revenues are concerned, economic growth really is everything. The economic recovery triggered by the 2003 tax rate reductions means not only greater prosperity for all Americans but more revenue for government, too. Are there disparities? Yes, of course. And are there inequities? Yes, but a rising tide lifts all ships. Where ships are in need of repair, government can and should step in to help out.
It was John F. Kennedy who noted 40 years ago that reducing punitive levels of taxation, such as the 60 percent tax on dividends prior to the 2003 law, is the best way to close the budget deficit. His words are as relevant today as in 1962:
"As I have repeatedly emphasized, our choice today is not between a tax cut and a balanced budget. Our choice is between chronic deficits resulting from chronic slack, on the one hand, and transitional deficits temporarily enlarged by tax revision designed to promote full employment and thus make possible an ultimately balanced budget."
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