Today, the New York Times spends four pages, thousands of words and a multimedia slide show to tell the world that we’re less taxed now than we were in 1980. Headline: Complaints Aside, Most Face Lower Tax Burden Than in the Reagan ’80s.
The Times then pulls some hacky sleight of hand that will only fool liberals, using 1980 as its banner year. The obvious implication is that the current economy could do with higher taxes, which just happens to be the Democratic Party’s position in the fiscal cliff negotiations. The other obvious implication is that if higher tax rates were good enough for the man most identified with 1980, Ronald Reagan, well then they should be good enough for John Boehner et al.
The obvious problem with the Times’ second obvious implication: Those high 1980 tax rates and their drag on the economy helped elect Reagan. He started cutting taxes after his inauguration, which was in 1981. And the economy grew enormously. That growth undercuts the Times’ first implication.
If the Times really wanted to inform its cocooned readers (stop laughing), it could go back and take a look at one of the last times Democrats promised Republicans they would cut spending in exchange for tax cuts. That was in 1983, which is in the vicinity of the Times’ benchmark 1980 year. The Times could also go back and take a look at the last time Democrats and Republicans came together on a comprehensive immigration reform plan that included both beefed up security and paths to legalization for the illegal aliens where here at the time. That was in 1986.
In both cases, the Reagan Republicans accepted deals with the Democrats in good faith, and in both cases, the Democrats failed to live up to their ends of the deals. Is there any reason for Republicans to believe that the current crop of Democrats will be any more faithful, or that their word holds any more value, now than it did during the Reagan years?
But whatever. History is boring.