Voodoo Economists Bullish on Trump and Cruz

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Supply-side guru Arthur Laffer happy to stand with both of the GOP's front-running pariahs.

As news outlets look forward to a potential Trump/Cruz battle to the death in Cleveland in July, there’s probably anxiety about finding some credible Republican gabbers to talk about the contest in ways that don’t imply both candidates should be tied to concrete blocks and dropped into Lake Erie. 

But as the Washington Post’s Jim Tankersley notes, there’s one go-to group of Republicans who can smile on both of the much-hated GOP presidential front-runners: the venerable tribe of supply-side economists and propagandists who don’t much care what you stand for as long as you stand for big high-end tax cuts über alles.

How could you have two better candidates than Cruz and Trump?” said Arthur Laffer, the godfather of supply-side economics, who last year co-founded an advocacy group to push presidential candidates to adopt his preferred tax policies. “You can’t get a better primary than this, from my perspective.”

The praise has alarmed some other conservatives, who say the supply-side crowd is showing itself to be chiefly concerned with cutting taxes for companies and high earners, at the expense of its other principles.

Well, when you are a hammer, everything does look nailish, doesn’t it?

Laffer’s group, the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, is officially neutral in the GOP race. Still, its co-founders, including financial commentator Larry Kudlow, former presidential candidate Steve Forbes and economist Stephen Moore, have spoken or written favorably in recent months about Trump and Cruz

The group is delighted with Trump’s tax plan, which reduces the top income tax rate from nearly 40 percent to 25 percent and the top corporate rate from 35 percent to 15 percent.

Members have also roundly praised Cruz for a tax plan that closely tracks Laffer’s vision for a growth-injecting tax code. It would institute a single income tax rate of 10 percent for all income and add a “business transfer tax” — essentially, a consumption tax — of 16 percent.

The ultimate signature of the devout supply-sider, of course, is indifference to the fiscal consequences of deep tax cuts on the grounds that they will pay for themselves by meta-growth. And thus, reports Tankersley, the voodoo-economics caucus isn’t real high on John Kasich, the darling of the suppy-siders’ estranged conservative cousins, the fiscal hawks.

It’s good to know there’s at least one group of Republicans who will probably be happy with the outcome in Cleveland no matter what happens. What strikes others as chaos or calamity could seem to Team Top Rate like multiple ballots of rich red-inky goodness.