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Free Tax Cut?

Back on January 22nd, The New York Times editorial board published an editorial, titled “There’s No Such Thing as a Free Tax Cut,” in which they criticized Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for “…repeat<ing> the risible fantasy that the Trump administration’s 2017 tax cuts will bolster economic growth sufficiently for the government to recoup the revenue it has lost by lowering tax rates.”

I found nothing objectionable, per se, in their derision: they are right that there is very little evidence that we are, at current tax rates, operating even close to the “high tax” side of the Laffer curve that would allow tax receipts to rise in response to a falling tax rate.  That is, indeed, a self-aggrandizing delusion.

But, given the history of the kinds of policies and candidates The NYT editorial board traditionally has supported — and the kind of dismissive declarations they have traditionally made in response to arguments about the cost of such policies — I found that their smug outrage grated on me.  Here is how I expressed — with a certain degree of snark — my displeasure at their self-congratulatory tone.

They neither published my letter nor answered my question.

24 January 2020

To the editors:

I will grant the validity of your assertion that there is no such thing as a free tax cut.

Will you acknowledge the validity of the counter-assertion: That there is no such thing as a free tax?

Or, for that matter, a free regulation?


© Copyright 2020, Augustus P. Lowell

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