Open Thread: UK Gets Hit by Laffer Curve

Governments worldwide are hard up for cash right now and sadly, more are pushing for tax increases than spending cuts. The United Kingdom is one such country and unfortunately for it, the revenues that were expected from raising taxes just aren't materializing. In a blog post for, the Cato Institute's Daniel Mitchell takes a look at the revenue situation in the UK and then examines the question of why many economists push policies they know are self-destructive:

I’m more mystified by the behavior of economists. Let’s look at a couple of examples. Justin Wolfers and Mark Thoma recently cited some survey data to claim that the Laffer Curve was universally rejected by the profession.

But as James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute explained, the survey actually showed just the opposite, with economists by a margin of nearly 5-1 agreeing that lower tax rates could boost GDP (and therefore taxable income).

Those economists did say that a reduction in tax rates, based on current levels, would not cause taxable income to jump by a large enough amount to fully offset the revenue-losing impact of the lower tax rate. But the Laffer Curve says that only happens in extreme circumstances, so there’s zero contradiction.

So why did Wolfers and Thoma create a straw man in an attempt to discredit the Laffer Curve?

I have no idea, but Republican politicians probably deserve some of the blame. Too many of them make silly claims that “all tax cuts pay for themselves,” even when talking about new credits and deductions that have no positive impact on economic performance.

To the extent that Wolfers, Thoma, and others think that’s what the Laffer Curve is all about, then their skepticism is warranted.

Do you think Republican politicans have gone overboard in stating that all tax cuts are self-financing?

Open Thread
Matthew Sheffield's picture