JFK Has a Message for Today’s Democrats on Taxes: Cut! Cut! Cut!


Yesterday, I was extremely honored to discover that conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh had featured a new ad from the Committee to Unleash Prosperity (which I am professionally affiliated with) on his show.

As a longtime listener, it is absolute thrill that a project I worked on received recognition from his iconic program — but even more gratifying is knowing that the added attention will go a long way towards educating the public on one item that has flown under the radar during the tax debate:

Tax cuts have historically been a bipartisan solution for economic growth.    

As Larry Kudlow and Brian Domitrovic noted in the teaser to their widely acclaimed new book, JFK and the Reagan Revolution: A Secret History of American Prosperity:

John F. Kennedy was the first president since the 1920s to slash tax rates across-the-board, becoming one of the earliest supply-siders. Sadly, today’s Democrats have ignored JFK’s tax-cut legacy and have opted instead for an anti-growth, tax-hiking redistribution program, undermining America’s economy.

JFK realized that high taxes that punished success and fanned class warfare harmed the economy. In the 1950s, when high tax rates prevailed, America endured recessions every two or three years and the ranks of the unemployed swelled. Only in the 1960s did an uninterrupted boom at a high rate of growth (averaging 5 percent per year) drive a tremendous increase in jobs for the long term. The difference was Kennedy’s economic policy, particularly his push for sweeping tax-rate cuts.

Kennedy was so successful in the ’60s that he directly inspired Ronald Reagan’s tax cut revolution in the 1980s, which rejuvenated the economy and gave us another boom that lasted for two decades.

As the authors point out, JFK’s tax cuts led to soaring economic growth and gave Reagan supply-siders the blueprint with which they achieved two decades of prosperity. President Kennedy well understood the impact of tax cuts on American workers, stating in 1962, “Every dollar released from taxation that is spent or invested will help create a new job and a new salary. And these new jobs and new salaries can create other jobs and other salaries.”

And while Kennedy gets credit for drafting the prosperity playbook, he is far from the only Democrat in recent memory to support tax cuts. Reagan’s 1986 tax act, a transformational piece of tax cut legislation that played a critical role in defining Reagan-era prosperity, passed the Senate 97-3 with 44 Democratic votes — including those of Joe Biden, Al Gore, and current Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy.

Flash forward to today, and the Democratic Party appears to have entirely abandoned the belief that tax cuts are growth-positive. If this is not the case (and despite whatever issues Democrats on Capitol Hill have with the Republican bill), why should they not put forward a tax cut bill of their own?

Some Democrats may point out that marginal rates on individuals were higher when JFK was President — but the developed world has been on a tax-slashing spree over the last several decades, very much mimicking the success of the Kennedy-Reagan model. As a result, similar tax cuts are especially needed for the U.S. economy to remain competitive.

It is my sincere hope that Democrats will eventually come to the table to support a tax cut jobs bill for the American people. Hopefully, this new ad channeling JFK can play a role in reminding the public that tax cuts have typically been a bipartisan solution for igniting prosperity.

Jonathan Decker

Jonathan Decker is the Chief Economic Correspondent for TheNationalPulse.com.

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