Supply-side economics: Is there really much doubt that it failed?

There is a More Guilty Party #5 - Supply Side ...

Sometimes pointing out reality is very annoying to those who live in a cloistered world in which Mitt Romney is president and Republicans have captured the U.S. Senate.

That didn’t happen, of course. But it came as an enormous surprise to those watch only Fox News and take their political cues from Karl Rove and Sean Hannity.

So, it was really not news to me that the good folks over at The Hayride should be so shocked to find someone questioning the discredited right-wing orthodoxy that is supply-side economics. That’s what I did yesterday in this post.

In a rather ugly broadside aimed at me (does every political or policy disagreement now have to be laden with personal insults?), the author of the piece seems truly amazed to learn that not everyone buys into the notion that slashing taxes will result in a massive revenue windfall for the government and creation of widespread utopia.

Frankly, it’s a ridiculous – and tiresome – circumstance that we’re even arguing about whether competitive tax policy is an aid to economic growth. That Mann would beclown himself by wading into it shows he’s out of place as a professor in LSU’s mass-com school and ought to be in the poli sci department, but of course this is nothing more than a local equivalent of a George Stephanopoulous or Elliot Spitzer passing himself off as a journalist.

Mann’s blog, which one hopes he’s not composing on state time, consists of one left-wing anti-Jindal diatribe after another. Most of them are fairly well-written and appear reasonable until you do some research into his sources and claims; that’s a testament to his skill as a spin doctor.

But if you do that research and come to the conclusion that he’s a partisan hack entrusted with the education of our kids, and if you should give voice to that conclusion, be prepared to see the darker side of political spin doctoring.

Well, at least the author thinks that I write well and “appear” reasonable! (If my blog were a movie, the poster would say: “Bob Mann’s blog is ‘well-written’ and ‘reasonable.’ — The Hayride”)

But back to the question of whether supply-side economics has been debunked. Even one of its primary architects, Ronald Reagan’s budget director David Stockman, has dismissed it. And Reagan himself raised taxes in 1982 and 1984 when his tax cuts began to balloon the deficit. And how did those Bush tax cuts turn out?

I really don’t think it’s worth much additional time debating supply-side with anyone, but I will offer a few charts and links that present the case for questioning the view that slashing taxes automatically creates new revenue.

Perhaps I’m wrong (I often am), but I don’t see how just making the case that supply-side economics doesn’t work as advertised — a belief shared by hundreds, if not thousands, of economists — makes me a “partisan hack.”

In any case, The Hayride’s critique of my post brings to mind these wise words: “Observe which side resorts to the most vociferous name-calling and you are likely to have identified the side with the weaker argument and they know it.”

The Failure of Supply-Side Economics

TAX-CUT SNAKE OIL: Two conservative theories contradict each other and the facts

Why the GOP Won’t Admit Supply-Side Econ Has Failed

Supply-Side Economics in Fact and Fancy

Supply-side economics: No-tax, low-tax prosperity claims don’t match reality

Tenth Anniversary of the Bush-era Tax Cuts

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10 Responses to Supply-side economics: Is there really much doubt that it failed?

  1. Ken Burk says:

    I appreciate your “wise words”, Bob. As an observer of people’s behavior I have most often noticed that the person that yells the loudest is the one with the most to hide.


  2. dp says:

    The folks at the Hayride definitely fall into the category of people who, if they’re disagreeing with you, it’s a pretty good sign you’re right.


  3. Fredster says:

    Howard you apparently missed this part:

    All opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author, not LSU, the Manship School nor the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs.

    and this:

    I write about all sorts of topics — national and state politics, but also my family and my faith.


  4. Stephen Winham says:

    As you say, at least you didn’t resort to the name-calling that is the default specialty of blogs like the one you mention when rational arguments are impossible. You have asked a legitimate question, but Mr. Mann is not bound by ethics or anything else to answer it and he is certainly under no obligation to balance his postings in any way. There are plenty of blogs spewing the most egregious right wing propaganda – To what standard do you hold them? To what standard do you hold “The Hayride”? Have you asked its owner the same question you are asking Mr. Mann?


    • Robert Mann says:

      Steve and Rob, I’m not going to honor Arceneaux’s Nixonian “questions” with a response because they are really just nasty accusations dressed up as questions. I will say only that I wish someone would pay me for writing this blog because I’ve made not one dime from it since I started it in May of last year. But if I really wanted to start a money-making enterprise, I would have devoted myself to something else. I speak up against Jindal’s misrule of Louisiana because too many won’t or are afraid to (and in calling out Jindal, Steve is a wise and courageous compatriot). I don’t want to look in the mirror after this guy’s destroyed the state I love and have to admit that I was silent and did nothing.


  5. Tom Aswell says:

    Someone needs to step forward and be the voice of reason in a time when our state government has been handed over to a gaggle of neophytes who consistently hand over the reins of state government to their corporate benefactors–to the detriment of those they were elected/appointed to serve: the citizens of Louisiana. Bob Mann does an admirable job of being that person who calls out our absentee governor. If not for people like him, try to imagine how much more damage Jindal could have inflicted upon this state.


  6. tls0 says:

    Hey Lola, Take a Walk on the Supply Side

    When those who always love to keep government small
    Say that cutting tax rates will give government more
    Those who are listening should certainly recall:
    If you do it for money, not love, you’re a …pro.

    If cutting tax rates produces more revenue
    And smaller government is what really suits you,
    Then you should be arguing that tax rates go high,
    Lowering tax revenue. Let’s give it a try.


  7. Nick says:

    “does every political or policy disagreement now have to be laden with personal insults?”

    I’ll call this a fair question, though there’s a publication in Lafayette self-proclaimed “The Independent”, where the staff loves your work and highlights it often with praise, that’s known for doing the same exactly thing to many with whom they have political disagreements.

    Seems kind of ironic.


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