Political Animal


June 11, 2011 8:45 AM Pawlenty dances with the Tax Fairy

By Steve Benen

The non-partisan Tax Policy Center released an independent analysis of Tim Pawlenty’s massive tax-cut plan yesterday. While estimates on the price tag vary, the TPC found that the Republican presidential hopeful is proposing $11.6 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade, nearly all of which would benefit the richest of the rich. No, that’s not a typo.

But don’t worry, Pawlenty says. By dramatically reducing government revenue, he’ll magically increase government revenue. Here’s the argument the confused former governor offered on Fox News yesterday:

“Keep in mind, whether it be the Bush tax cuts, the Reagan tax cuts, or other tax cuts, they always produce an increase in revenue. There’s no dispute about that…. We don’t have to guess what will happen to revenues if we do bold tax cuts, and mine are amongst the boldest in the modern history of the country. We saw that the revenues increased dramatically because of President Reagan’s tax cuts, same with Kennedy, same to significant extent under President Bush the second. So it’s not a question of whether revenues are going to go up. They will.”

Yep, Tim Pawlenty believes in the Tax Fairy.

This comes up from time to time, but the incessant stupidity of the claim is bordering on pathological. The argument is straightforward: cutting taxes grows the economy, which means individuals and businesses will make more money, which means they’ll pay more in taxes. Voila! Cutting taxes brings in more revenue!

Except this is idiocy. Pawlenty believes — or at least pretends to believe — that “there’s no dispute” about this, but he has it backwards. The very idea has not only been proven false repeatedly, the argument itself is so ridiculous that no credible economist — not even conservative economists — takes it seriously. Even the Bush administration — the most fiscally irresponsible in American history — rejected it as nonsense. Even Paul Ryan — the Ayn Rand-loving, right-wing chairman of the House Budget Committee — doesn’t believe it.

Tim Pawlenty started the race as the dull former-moderate. He’s now making the transition to the not-terribly-bright crank who spews demonstrable gibberish on Fox News. It’s proving to be painful to watch.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • DAY on June 11, 2011 9:04 AM:

    Reminds me of those late night weight loss programs.

    The Beer Diet! Pounds melt away as you lie on the couch!

    The Cake and Ice Cream Plan! Wear that itsy bitsy polka dot bikini again!

    Sadly, they wouldn't run those ads if they didn't work. And Pawlenty/Fox knows that.

  • BUFFALO HAROLD on June 11, 2011 9:05 AM:

    You certainly have to applaud Tim Pawlenty's gutsy courage. He seems to have no reluctance to brazenly flaunt his utter ignorance of economics and his unfathomable stupidity on all other policy matters in public. That should count for something!

  • atlliberal on June 11, 2011 9:08 AM:

    Maybe we should lower the tax rate to 0%! Then we can solve the deficit problem in no time!

  • c u n d gulag on June 11, 2011 9:09 AM:

    Plenty Dim Tim is out to prove once and for all that he's Pawlenty stupid enough for the rabble to nominate.

    Yes, Dim Tim, cutting taxes brings in more revenue the same way that lopping off your weiner will help you have more children.

    You first...

  • Danp on June 11, 2011 9:09 AM:

    OPawlenty dances with the Tax Fairy

    OK, as long as he doesn't email photos of his underpants gnome.

  • berttheclock on June 11, 2011 9:11 AM:

    Amazing the work ethic of Sean Hannity. Talk radio, FAUX TV and, apparently, he is T-Paw's financial advisor. He loves to tie in the Kennedy and Reagan tax cuts. Of course, he never mentions the fact Reagan raised taxes, or in some cases, just referred to them as Users Fees.

  • hell's littlest angel on June 11, 2011 9:12 AM:

    Itís proving to be painful to watch.

    Not for me. I'm loving it. We've got plenty of stupid people in this country, but not nearly enough to put Pawlenty back in office. He'll just drag the other demagogues down with him.

  • Danp on June 11, 2011 9:14 AM:

    Pawlenty was once on a plane when an engine went out. The pilot assured everyone that there was no problem, but they would be delayed an hour. Later another engine died, and again the pilot explained that it would just delay the flight a little more. "God," Pawlenty said. "If those last two engines quit, we'll be up here all day."

  • mtboy on June 11, 2011 9:19 AM:

    Sadly, I think Pawlenty's tax plan is more a comment on the American voter than on Pawlenty. Just look at "Cut my taxes" but don't cut the government spending I like. This is not going to end well.

  • MikeBoyScout on June 11, 2011 9:22 AM:

    Tim Pawlenty started the race as the dullard former-moderate.

    Fixed that concluding paragraph for you.

  • MEL on June 11, 2011 9:29 AM:

    A short, satirical political animation on this subject on YouTube: Raising Revenue.

  • Frank Wilhoit on June 11, 2011 9:38 AM:

    The real point about the Laffer-curve fallacy is that IF it were true -- IF reducing tax rates caused an increase in revenue -- then (according to Republican pseudo-philosophy) that would be a bug, not a feature. In other words, not only is it false, but IF IT WERE TRUE they would be against it.

  • Marc on June 11, 2011 9:39 AM:

    It is the Big Lie told over and over. When done with the effectiveness of the right wing propaganda machine, it becomes the "truth".

    Where is the counter argument in the popular media, (and I am using that term to mean that which reaches the populace)?

  • pokeybob on June 11, 2011 9:40 AM:

    It's settled then...Pawlenty/Palin. The two brightest bulbs in the, help me out here, sand box.

  • TR on June 11, 2011 9:44 AM:

    Hey, who are you going to believe? T-Paw or all these stacks of hard historical data?

  • jjm on June 11, 2011 10:06 AM:

    It is likely that he is thinking of the 'growth' (minimal under Bush) that results when we eat up our equity and have to live by borrowing money. Then financial companies "grow' though in the long run the private debts become unsustainable.

    Fool us once, shame on the GOP. Fool us twice, shame on us.

  • Drinking Jim Crow on June 11, 2011 10:59 AM:

  • Joe Friday on June 11, 2011 11:58 AM:

    Pawlenty: We saw that the revenues increased dramatically because of President Reagan's tax cuts, same with Kennedy, same to significant extent under President Bush the second.

    * According to the independent non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, after numerous rounds of tax cuts for the Rich & Corporate beginning in 2001, federal income tax receipts plummeted down to 1959 levels by 2004.

    * According to David Stockman (Director of the OMB 1981-1985), federal income tax receipts plunged down to 1940's levels after the federal income tax rate cuts in 1981.

    * According to Herb Stein (Ben Stein's father), an economic expansion had already begun in 1961, before the tax cuts were enacted in 1964. The national economy then experienced a dramatic slow-down in 1966, less than 18 months after federal income tax rate cuts were enacted into law, with GDP going over a cliff from 10.1% down to 1.4%. (the top marginal rate of individual income tax had been 91%, and the corporate rate was 52%).

  • barkleyg on June 11, 2011 1:03 PM:

    "Itís proving to be painful to watch."

    For me its : ROFLMAO

  • zandru on June 11, 2011 3:00 PM:

    The Conscience of the Liberals

    Check out Paul Krugman's blog, the Saturday post, on the 'inverse Laffer curve'. In it, he successfully argues that, under recession conditions like we have now, the more you spend and create a deficit, the lower your deficit will become.

    Someone ought to run this past the Sunday gasbag circuit. It's got the kind of incredulity that they just love (from Republicans, at least...)

  • Tom Marney on June 12, 2011 7:40 AM:

    Cutting taxes from too high to about right increases revenue. Cutting taxes from about right to too low doesn't.

    There-- is that really so hard?