It's one thing when your opponents criticize you; it's quite another when the criticism is coming from your side of the aisle. Over the last couple of months two articles have appeared in Forbes that tore into the two most potent myths that the Right still clings to like a baby to a bottle: 1. tax cuts pay for themselves and 2. Ronald Reagan was the greatest president of all time.
Let's start with the first. In Kansas, Sam Brownback, the incumbent governor, is in hot water. Seems dear ole Sam has been strolling down the old yellow-brick road of supply-side economics and, surprise, surprise, it isn't working any better now than it did when Ronald Reagan trotted it out for a look see.
According to the Forbes' piece, in 2012, Kansas "cut individual tax rates by 25 percent and repealed the tax on sole proprietorships and other 'pass-through' businesses." The following year, it passed another round of tax cuts, which over five years will lower the top rate to 3.9 percent. As a result of these tax cuts, revenues fell dramatically. "Individual income taxes fell from $2.9 billion to $2.2 billion and all income tax collections plummeted from $3.3 billion to $2.6 billion, a drop of more than 20 percent."
In other words, just like the first failed attempt in the '80s, instead of revenues increasing, the tax cuts, as many predicted, led to decreasing revenues. To offset the mounting deficits, the state was forced to impose draconian budget cuts. This only made things worse. Not only hasn't the economy taken off, job growth in the state has "lagged behind the U.S. economy. While more small businesses were formed, many of them were merely individuals taking advantage of the newly tax-free status of those firms by redefining themselves as businesses."
But while the above stats certainly put to bed the ridiculous notion that trickle-down economics works, the pièce de résistance for me was the closing paragraph:
One can argue whether cutting taxes is a good thing. One can argue about whether government is too big. One can even argue about whether low taxes increase business activity. But one cannot credibly argue that tax cuts increase revenue or even pay for themselves. They didn’t for Ronald Reagan. They don’t for Sam Brownback. They won’t for the next politician who tries—whether he (or she) is in Washington, D.C. or in some state capital.And then there's the second Forbes piece. For years all we've heard from the Right is that Barack Obama is the worst president of all time. Want to know who they think is the greatest? Yep, the Gipper, himself. Saint Ronald Reagan, the man for whom they worship at the alter. Not even George Washington is held in such regard.
Well do you know what Forbes had the nerve to say? After carefully reviewing ALL the data over the last six years, it concluded that on jobs, growth and investing, Obama out performed Ronald Reagan in all three. That's right, the heir apparent to Karl Marx, himself, outdid ole Captain Capitalism. Some socialist!
On jobs, unemployment in Obama's sixth year is 6.1 percent. Under Reagan, it was 7.1 percent. Indeed, Reagan didn't achieve Obama's current rate until his seventh year in office. To make matters worse for Reagan is the forecast that projects unemployment to likely fall to 5.4 percent by next summer, a rate Reagan never achieved at any point during his presidency.
On growth and investment, Obama's first 67 months in office have been far more successful than Reagan's. There have been "63 straight months of economic expansion, and 25 consecutive months of manufacturing expansion." The S&P 500 has been higher under Obama than it was under Reagan. And while investors certainly prospered under Reagan, they're prospering even more under Obama.
And, like the above piece, the closing paragraph sums things up rather nicely:
Economically, President Obama’s administration has outperformed President Reagan’s in all commonly watched categories. Simultaneously the current administration has reduced the deficit, which skyrocketed under Reagan. Additionally, Obama has reduced federal employment, which grew under Reagan (especially when including military personnel,) and truly delivered a “smaller government.” Additionally, the current administration has kept inflation low, even during extreme international upheaval, failure of foreign economies (Greece) and a dramatic slowdown in the European economy.Why did I choose to highlight the two Forbes' articles, when virtually every other news outlet from the Washington Post to the New York Times to the Huffington Post to the Daily Kos to the fortune cookies at your local Chinese restaurant have been saying pretty much the same thing all along? Because it's important to note that a large component of the Right's argument stems from an irrational belief that every main-stream publication out there is somehow all part of a giant liberal cabal that seeks to distort the facts and rewrite history.
Well, the Right can't say that about Forbes. While certainly a conservative publication, Forbes is not ideologically driven. That means they know how to use a calculator and aren't beholden to any particular agenda. And, I'll admit it, it was a whole lot more fun reading the truth from Forbes than it would've been from Huff-Po.
Funny thing about facts. While they're often open to interpretation and misrepresentation (and sometimes even outright dismissal), they don't lie. Inevitably, one way or another, they have the final word.