Taxation Is the Lifeblood of the State

By Foulkes, Arthur | Freeman, November 2011 | Go to article overview

Taxation Is the Lifeblood of the State


Foulkes, Arthur, Freeman


The clifïhanger debate over whether or not to raise the federal government's debt ceiling threw U.S. fiscal policy into brighter relief than it has been in recent memory.

Suddenly people were calling for significant cuts in government spending in the face of a rapidly growing national debt.

As often happens, calls for cuts in government spending were met by competing calls for higher taxes, especially on higher-income earners and businesses. They can afford to pay the extra taxes, we were told. And what's more, higher taxes could actually help the economy.

In making this case, proponents of raising taxes pointed to the tax increases that came out ofWashington under President Clinton in 1993. The U.S. economy, as measured by GDP growth, was strong in the years after those tax hikes while unemployment and inflation were relatively low. The argument now is that the 1993 tax increases did not inhibit the economic boom the country enjoyed in the last six or seven years of the twentieth century.

In April New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof made this very argument. He wrote that while it's true higher taxes in general "tend to reduce incentives," this apparently "weak effect" is often overwhelmed by other factors. "Were Americans really lazier in the 1950s, when marginal tax rates peaked at more than 90 percent?" Kristof asked. "Are people in high-tax states like Massachusetts more lackadaisical than folks in a state like Florida that has no personal income tax at all?"

Like other observers, Kristof also contrasted the "golden period of high growth" after the Clinton tax hike with the "anemic economy" that followed George W. Bush's tax cuts.

But do higher taxes really spur (or at least not inhibit) prosperity? Looking at the data from the 1990s, one might believe so. After all, the 1993 tax hikes were followed by years of strong economic performance. Post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this), many might believe.

But not everyone agrees the data are quite so clear. The Heritage Foundation's J. D. Foster, for example, believes the data show that the U.S. economy was already expanding when the Clinton tax increases took effect. If anything, he believes, those tax hikes slowed overall growth for several years until 1997, when the Republican-led Congress passed a series of tax cuts, including a reduction in the capital gains tax rate from 28 to 20 percent.

The "real acceleration in the economy began in 1997, when economic growth should have cooled," Foster wrote. "This acceleration in growth coincided with a powerful pro-growth tax cut."

Foster also authored a 2008 Heritage Foundation summary of several scholarly studies showing tax hikes corresponding with slower or negative economic growth. In theory higher taxes could encourage greater levels of private investment through lower borrowing costs - if government used the money to retire debt and reduced its competition for lendable funds. But this potential "silver lining" is overshadowed by the negative effects of higher taxes, he stated. However plausible theoretically, in practice the argument runs into trouble, not least from the fact that governments seldom save any of their revenue, Foster notes.

Still, the idea that the 1993 tax increases spurred economic growth will not die easily. For instance, some people argue that those tax hikes provided much needed confidence in the U.S. economy. As Kristofput it: "Tax increases can also send a message of prudence that stimulates economic growth."

With this much disagreement it's hard to know what is really the truth. And this is always the case when looking at the effects of any single economic policy in a vast and complex system. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Taxation Is the Lifeblood of the State
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.