I've often wondered what exactly is going on inside the minds of people who respond to almost every situation with a tax cut proposal. Whether the our national debt is in the trillions or not, whether our federal budget is in surplus or in deficit, whether we're at war or at peace, the answer is always a tax cut, according to some influential Americans.
Looking over quotes from some of the most prominent supporters of tax cuts, we generally find that these people, at best, believe something that is reverse of the truth and, at worst, are just flat out crazy.
1997 Milton Friedman before the Republican Congress and President Bush added $3 trillion to the national debt:
"The notion that the surplus should be used to pay back the national debt is, I believe, a very wrong notion. What the surplus should be used for is to cut taxes. What really needs to be done is to cut government spending. The only way, in my opinion, you're going to cut government spending is by first cutting government taxes."
2001 Alan Greenspan discussing the perils America was facing because the national debt might be paid off:
"But continuing to run surpluses beyond the point at which we reach zero or near-zero federal debt brings to center stage the critical longer-term fiscal policy issue of whether the federal government should accumulate large quantities of private (more technically nonfederal) assets. At zero debt, the continuing unified budget surpluses currently projected imply a major accumulation of private assets by the federal government. ...over time, having the federal government hold significant amounts of private assets would risk sub-optimal performance by our capital markets, diminished economic efficiency, and lower overall standards of living than would be achieved otherwise."
2003 Denny Hastert debating the first major tax cut during a war in U.S. history:
"Nothing is more important in the face of war than cutting taxes."
2007 John McCain after President Bush's tax cuts added one and a half trillion dollars to the national debt:
"And the fact is the tax cuts have dramatically increased revenues."
2007 Arthur Laffer discussing the moral dimensions of tax hikes:
"You get a mass murderer that goes out there and kills 50 people. We all hate him, we get him. But you get some guy out there that does some stupid fiscal move on taxes, and he creates an unemployment rate through the ceiling. (As a result, another guy) comes home, he can't find a job, he drinks too much and he beats his kids. It's huge... These aren't numbers when you read unemployment rates ... It's really people's lives."
2007 Grover Norquist discussing why progressive taxes are like Jim Crow laws:
"We are slowly moving away from tolerating discrimination based on economics just as we now reject discrimination based on race or sexual orientation. The drive for a single-rate, flat-rate income tax is the moral equivalent of the 1960s civil rights movement which rejected different laws for whites and blacks."