Insanity, as the adage goes, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. It comes to mind with news that, even amid mountains of evidence that their tax-cutting binge of 2017 has failed to deliver anything but mountainous debt, congressional Republicans are plotting to do it again.
That’s according to reporting in The Washington Post, based on administration sources and congressional allies of President Donald Trump, who appear to think that the best way to address lackluster economic growth is to do the same thing that didn’t work to address it two years ago.
The idea is a non-starter in the Democrat-held House, which is a good thing, because America cannot afford another expensive tax giveaway to the rich. Administration and GOP congressional proponents seem to think that by pushing the issue anyway, they might create a groundswell of public support to distract from impeachment proceedings and boost their 2020 prospects by portraying Democrats as the enemies of tax cuts.
Good luck with that. Polls show most Americans will see right through another Republican invocation of “voodoo economics.”
That’s the phrase that the late Republican President George H.W. Bush coined for supply-side economics, and he was right. The idea that cutting taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals will lead to “trickle down” benefits for everyone else has been disproven in the real world again and again, as has the notion of creating so much economic growth that the cuts will “pay for themselves” rather than add to the federal deficit.
The 2017 tax cuts are the perfect example: They have benefited mostly corporations and the wealthy, have pushed the annual deficit to almost $1 trillion, and haven’t significantly moved the needle on economic growth. The 1.9% growth rate the U.S. Commerce Department reported last week is about what the economy was doing before the cuts — and is far short of the 3% rate Trump set as his goal.
Yet supply-side adherents, putting dogma before data, are sending up trial balloons for another round of tax cuts. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, told The Washington Post that discussions with the White House are pending about “pro-growth” and “pro-innovation” future cuts. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., terms it “tax cuts 2.0” and predicts it will be “valuable for everybody.”
America has already seen what such predictions from the supply-side crowd are worth. “This tax plan will not only pay for itself but in fact create additional revenue for the government,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin vowed last year, based on the 3% growth rate the economy was supposed to see.
Despite the nearly trillion-dollar debt pit they created, these folks still don’t seem to get it. It brings to mind another old saying: When you’re in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.