TribLIVE

| Opinion/The Review

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Lessons liberals won't learn

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Paul Kengor
Saturday, April 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

In my previous column, I underscored the 1920s lessons that President Obama and fellow “progressives” need to learn. These include tax cuts' value — lessons that Obama and his allies will refuse. They want big, expanded government, not big tax cuts and restraint.

Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, who understood that reducing tax rates can actually create more revenue, wasn't proffering some mere academic theory. He and Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge cut the 73-percent upper-income rate left by President Woodrow Wilson. In 1922, it was cut to 58 percent; by 1925, to 25 percent.

What happened? Not only did the economy boom, vanquishing Wilson's double-digit unemployment, but Coolidge consistently balanced the federal budget. Mellon was right: More revenue came in, rising from $700 million to $1 billion.

Unfortunately, “progressive” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt skyrocketed the top rate to 94 percent. It would be reduced to 70 percent by 1965, but it took President Ronald Reagan to return it to Mellon-era levels, ultimately to 28 percent. Like Mellon, Reagan saw federal revenue increase, from $600 billion to $1 trillion.

So, why did deficits increase under Reagan? Liberals insist his tax cuts generated deficits. They're wrong.

Reagan's deficits resulted from revenue loss during the 1981-83 recession and — foremost — from excessive spending. As revenues rose from $600 billion in 1981 to $1 trillion in 1989, spending — on social programs by congressional Democrats and on defense by Reagan — soared from $678 billion to $1.143 trillion.

Reagan biographer Lou Cannon calls the Reagan deficits “war-time deficits,” aimed at winning the Cold War and terminating the Soviet Union. Once they did, they paved the way for President Bill Clinton to slash defense spending and balance the budget.

Reagan's deficits peaked in 1983-86, when the upper-income rate was still 50 percent. It wasn't reduced again until 1987, to 38.5 percent, and didn't come down to 28 percent until 1988. And Reagan's deficits decreased in 1987-89.

Think about that: Reagan's deficits peaked when the upper tax rate was 50 percent, far higher than the 39.6 percent that Obama and liberal Democrats demanded. If Obama believes deficits will come down with a 39.6-percent upper rate, why didn't they go down with Reagan's 50 percent?

That gets back to the main reason for most deficits: excessive spending. It's an elementary fact that liberals/progressives resist because it stands in the way of what they really want to do: grow government and redistribute wealth.

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science at Grove City College. His books include “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama‘s Mentor” and “Dupes: How America‘s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.” His column appears the first Sunday of each month.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Steelers notebook: Injuries finally become issue at training camp
  2. Pirates notebook: New acquisition Happ more than happy to fill spot in rotation
  3. Inside the Steelers: QB Jones continues to get majority of snaps
  4. Steelers swap draft pick for Eagles cornerback
  5. News Alert
  6. Former Steeler Mendenhall relishes writing for HBO’s ‘Ballers’
  7. Architecture: Visionaries saw buildings but not the political surroundings
  8. East Liberty native steps off Broadway to bring ‘Kinky Boots’ home
  9. Road Trip! Destination: Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  10. Pittsburgh Glass Center exhibits new wares that reinterpret antiquities
  11. Western Pa. prosecutors zero in on human trafficking; legislation pending