Archive for arthur laffer

Taxes vs. Revenues

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on February 25, 2014 by andelino

The Laffer Curve 01During a meeting in a restaurant with two officials from the Ford Administration, “Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld,” a young economist “sketched a curve” on a napkin to illustrate an “argument” he was making.

Arthur Laffer was explaining to the Washington policymakers the concept of “taxable income elasticity”—i.e., “taxable income will change in response to changes in the rate of taxation.”

By 1974, the idea was already ancient. Ibn Khaldun, a 14th century Muslim philosopher, wrote in his work “The Muqaddimah“:

“It should be known that at the beginning of the dynasty, taxation yields a large revenue from small assessments. At the end of the dynasty, taxation yields a small revenue from large assessments.”

John Maynard Keynes had made the same point in 1933.

But for American politicians the idea that people “change their behavior” based on “rates of taxation” seemed revolutionary, so the concept became popularized as “The Laffer Curve.”

The crucial point, as Laffer has explained, is that:

“People do not work, consume, or invest to pay taxes. They work and invest to earn after-tax income, and they consume to get the best buys after tax. Therefore, people are not concerned per se with taxes, but with after-tax results. Taxes and after-tax results are very similar, but have crucial differences.”

The Laffer Curve explains why “higher taxes” provide an incentive to “work less.”

The LafferCurve 03

“When tax rates are too high, people work less since they are working mainly to pay for the marginal tax increase. The result is that higher tax rates can cause revenue to the government to decrease below what it would have been without the increased rate.”

But there is another way to create the same effect as a “prohibitive” tax increase: “provide subsidies that reduce incentives to work.”

Consider, for instance, how the subsidies for ObamaCare are affecting economic growth:

The CBO, the government’s nonpartisan number-cruncher, included the figures in its projection of economic growth over the next decade. The CBO estimates that “ObamaCare” will lower full-time employment by 2.3m in 2021, compared with what might have been without reform. That 2.3m drop is nearly three times larger than the CBO’s earlier projection.

The CBO does not give “credence” to Republicans’ common claim that “ObamaCare” is already reducing employment. Rather, the CBO expects “ObamaCare” to have its biggest impact from 2017.

Furthermore, the main reason for the “decline” is not that employers will slash jobs, but that Americans will “choose” to work less.

Nevertheless, the CBO provides the best case yet that “ObamaCare” will depress work, rather than boost it.

Many factors account for the drop. Top among them is the affect of “subsidies” for health insurance.

To help Americans buy coverage on new health “exchanges”, ObamaCare offers “tax credits” to those earning between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty line (about $11,500 to $46,000 for a single adult).

Those tax credits are offered on a sliding scale, by income, so workers effectively “pay a higher tax rate as their wages rise.”

This will “dissuade” workers from trying to “earn” more. It also allows a higher “standard of living,” that is, with health coverage, at a lower income, which may further “discourage” work.

The Laffer Curve 04

The CBO analyses other provisions, too.

For example the higher “payroll tax” for couples earning $250,000 or more may lower their “desire to earn” higher wages.

ObamaCare’s requirement that “insurers” cover the sick, without raising their “rates”, may prompt many to “retire” earlier than they would have otherwise.

The unintended effect of “ObamaCare” is that it provides incentives to work less or “to not work at all.”

And with fewer people in the workforce, the government will be bringing in “zero” revenue from the income those people would have otherwise generated.

This outcome was not exactly “unexpected.” It was what economists had “predicted” all along but it seems to come as a “surprise” to President Obama.

Perhaps he should have “invite” Laffer to bring his “napkin” to the White House to show him exactly “where he went wrong.”

Instead, Obama “re-drew” the Laffer Curve with his own “economic” understanding:

The Laffer Curve 02

“Steve, the math is the math. You can’t lower rates and raise revenue, unless you’re getting revenue from someplace else.” -President Obama on 60 Minutes.

Well, as everyone knows by now, the “Nobel Prize” Obama won wasn’t in economics…

Does Raising Taxes Lead to More Gov’t Revenue?
Economics in One Lesson

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