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Commentary By Jason L. Riley

Even Kennedy Funded the 'Great Society' Through Tax Cuts

Economics Tax & Budget

If only progressives cared about wealth creation as much as they do redistribution.

Just a week ago President Trump released his proposal to reduce tax rates on corporations and individuals, and already the administration and its critics are talking past each other. The White House says its overall goal is to accelerate economic growth, while detractors reply that the tax plan will benefit the wealthy. But since when is tax relief for high earners and private sector job-creators at cross-purposes with a faster-growing economy?

In 1961 a reporter asked President Kennedy why he supported a tax cut. “To stimulate the economy,” Kennedy replied. “Don’t you remember your Economics 101?” The economy Kennedy inherited from President Eisenhower was still expanding but the pace slowed in the second half of the 1950s. There had been three recessions during Eisenhower’s two terms, and the last one was still in progress when Kennedy took office.

The new administration wanted to prolong the prosperity not by increasing government spending, as John Kenneth Galbraith and other liberal intellectuals were urging, but through across-the-board income-tax rate reductions for individuals and more-generous depreciation allowances for businesses to spur capital investment. Kennedy spent the summer of 1962 pitching tax reform to the public. He said that “it is a paradoxical truth that taxes are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now.” Kennedy added that “the purpose of cutting taxes” is “to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy.”

Read the entire piece here at The Wall Street Journal


Jason L. Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, and a Fox News commentator.

This piece originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal