Bruce Bartlett

  • Aired:  02/22/12
  •  | Views: 37,820

Economist Bruce Bartlett weighs in on Barack Obama's proposals for cutting America's corporate tax rate and examines Ronald Reagan's tax increases. (7:11)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT, HE IS A

COLUMNIST FOR THE ECONOMIC BLOG

OF THE "NEW YORK TIMES."

HIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED, "THE

BENEFIT AND THE BURDEN, TAX

REFORM WHY WE NEED IT AND WHAT

IT WILL TAKE."

PLEASE WELCOME BACK TO THE SHOW,

BRUCE BARTLETT.

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE )

WELCOME BACK.

>> HAPPY TO BE HERE.

GLOAN NOW, THE BENEFIT AND THE

BURDEN TAX REFORM.

DWRIEWR HERE ON A RED-LETTER

DAY.

THE PRESIDENT OAT VERY DAY

YOU'RE CALLING FOR TAX REFORM

HAS ANNOUNCED HE WOULD LIKE TO

CUT THE CORPORATE TAX RATE IN

THIS COUNTRY FROM 35% TO 28%,

CLOSE SOME LOOPHOLES AND DO A

FEE FOR ANY COMPANY IN AMERICA

THAT DOES THEIR BUSINESS

OVERSEAS.

WHAT'S YOUR FEELING ABOUT THOSE

PRESCRIPTIONS?

>> WELL, IT SOUNDS, YOU KNOW,

LIKE A MOVE IN THE RIGHT

DIRECTION, BUT I NOTICED, ALSO,

ONE OF THE THINGS THE PRESIDENT

WANTS TO DO IS HAVE AN

EXTRA-SPECIAL LOW RATE OF 25%

JUST FOR MANUFACTURING

COMPANIES.

AND I THINK THAT THAT MOVES IN

THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF TRYING

TO TREAT ALL BUSINESSES EQUALLY,

AND MOVES US IN THE OPPOSITE

DIRECTION OF REFORM.

>> Jon: NOW YOU WORKED WITH

RONALD REAGAN DURING THE DAYS OF

HIS HEYDAY, AND YOU SAY-- WHAT

DO YOU, REAGAN WOULD DO THISN

THIS SITUATION?

IN YOUR MIND WHAT, DOES HE DO IN

THIS SITUATION?

>> WELL, WE KNOW WHAT RONALD

REAGAN DID BECAUSE HE DID IT IN

1986.

HE HAD A BIG STUDY DONE BY THE

TREASURY DEPARTMENT AND THEY

MADE A LOT OF RECOMMENDATIONS

AND SENT THEM TO CAPITOL HILL

AND THEY DISCUSSED IT AND THEY

ENDED UP LOWERING THE TOP TAX

RATE FROM 50% TO 28% BUT AMONG

OTHER THINGS HE RAISED THE

CAPITAL GAINS RATE FROM 20% TO

28% BECAUSE RONALD REAGAN SAID

HE OUGHT TO TREAT CAPITAL GAINS,

INCOME FROM CAPITAL, THE SAME AS

LABOR, AND I THINK THAT'S AN

IDEA THAT IS REALLY PRETTY OFF

THE TABLE TODAY.

>> Jon: SO WOULD RONALD

REAGAN BE TOO LIBERAL FOR

TODAY'S REPUBLICAN PARTY IN

TERMS OF FINANCIAL POLICY?

>> I DON'T THINK THERE'S ANY

QUESTIONS QE.

EVERYBODY FORGETS ALTHOUGH HE

CUT TAXES HIS FIRST YEAR HE

RAISE THE THEM ALMOST EVERY

OTHER YEAR OF HIS PRESIDENCY, 11

DIFFERENT TIMES.

>> Jon: BECAUSE HE WAS-- AND

I THINK WE BOAST ADMIT NOW-- A

COMMUNIST

( LAUGHTER )

I MEAN, WE WOULD BOTH AGREE--

HOW IS IT THAT ONE OF THE

BIGGEST OBSTACLES TO TAX REFORM

IN THIS COUNTRY IS A GROUP

CALLED AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM?

>> THAT'S A VERY INTERESTING

QUESTION.

GLOAN I KNOW!

>> IT'S RUN BY A FRIEND OF MINE

NAMED GROVER NORQUIST, AND THE

THING IS IT DOESN'T DO ANYTHING

THAT HAS TO DO WITH TAX REFORM.

THEY SUPPORT EVERY SINGLE

SPECIAL TAX DEAL THAT ANYBODY

EVER PROPOSES, ESPECIALLY IF

YOU'RE A REPUBLICAN, SLOPGZ IT

LOWERS TAXES.

THEY SAY THAT'S OKAY.

LOOPHOLES, ANYTHING THAT'S A

LOOPHOLE IS FINE WITH THEM, AS

LONG AS IT LOWERS TAXES.

BUT ONCE THE LOOPHOLE GETS PUT

IN, YOU CANNOT EVER TAKE IT OUT

AGAIN BECAUSE THAT'S A TAX

INCREASE.

I THINK THIS IS JUST LUDICROUS.

>> Jon: AND THE RHETORIC IS

SO COMPETING, THERE'S THIS

RHETORIC OF WE HAVE A TERRIBLE

DEBT AND DEFICIT PROBLEM IN THIS

COUNTRY.

IT IS UNMESSENGERRABLE.

UNMANAGEABLE.

IT HAS PUT OUR CHILDREN AND

GRANDCHILDREN'S CHILDREN INTO

SLAVERY.

THEY WILL BE STARRING IN THE

INDIANA JONES MOVIE.

AND, YET, THE TAX BITE IN THIS

COUNTRY IS THE LOWEST IT'S BEEN,

ESPECIALLY FOR THE UPPER INCOME

GROUPS, SINCE THE 1950s.

>> THAT'S EXACTLY CORRECT.

TAXES AS AWE SHARE OF THE

G.D.P., HAVE NOT BEEN-- ARE AT

THE LOEFT THEY'VE BEEN IN MY

LIFT, AND, OBVIOUSLY, I'M NOT

SUCH A YOUNG GUY.

>> Jon: STOP IT!

STOP IT!

( LAUGHTER )

YOU SAY THAT TO GET ANYTHING

DONE, THE DEMOCRATS WILL NEED TO

GAIN COURAGE AND THE REPUBLICANS

WILL NEED TO GAIN THE ABILITY TO

COMPROMISE.

BESIDES FROM BEING THE WORST

PLOT OF A "WIZARD OF OZ"

SPIN-OFF THAT I'VE EVER HEARD,

WHAT IS THE LIKE HOOD--

LIKELIHOOD THAT DEMOCRATS WILL

GAIN COURAGE AND REPUBLICANS

WILL GAIN COMPROMISE?

( LAUGHTER )

( SIGHS )

( LAUGHTER )

YOU'RE SPEECHLESS!

YOU'RE SPEECHLESS!

BECAUSE THIS IS--

( APPLAUSE )

YOU CANNOT READ THIS BOOK

WITHOUT THINK AGO ALMOST AT

EVERY PAGE, "OH, YEAH, THAT

MAKES SENSE.

OH, YEAH, THAT SOUNDS RIGHT."

AND IT DOESN'T SEEM THAT

PLYMOUTH COUNTIED.

>> IT'S NOT.

THE PROBLEM IS PURELY POLITICAL.

YOU HAVE, FRANKLY, ONE OF OUR

POLITICAL PARTIES IS INSANE.

AND WE ALL KNOW WHICH ONE IT IS.

( LAUGHTER )

( APPLAUSE )

>> Jon: AND THIS BY THE WAY

COMING FROM SOMEONE WHO AS I

MENTIONED EARLIER WORKED WITH

RONALD REAGAN.

THE IDEA THEN, THEY HAVE ALL

GIVEN THE PRESCRIPTION 999, FLAT

TAX, THE PRESIDENT-- MITT ROMNEY

CAME OUT TODAY IN FACT AND SIDE

HE WANTS TO DROP THE-- NOT THE

CORPORATE RATE BUT THE MARGINAL

TAX RATE ON HIGH-EARNING

INDIVIDUAL DOWN TO 28%.

SO HE'S SAYING OH, I SEE THE

PROBLEM HERE.

RICH PEOPLE PAYING TOO MUCH.

LET ME TAKE CARE OF THAT.

WHO DOES THAT APPEAL TO?

WHAT IS THAT EVEN POLITICALLY

AIMED AT?

>> IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY LOGICAL

SENSE.

YOU CAN ONLY INTERPRET IT WITHIN

THE DYNAMICS OF THE REPUBLICAN

PARTY WHERE THEY JUST-- IT'S

ESSENTIAL A PLUTOCRACY.

THEY JUST WORSHIP THE RICH.

THEY BELIEVE-- THEY DON'T EVEN

CALL THEM THE RICH.

THEY CALL THEM THE JOB CREATORS

AND ENTREPRENEURS.

ANY EUPHEMISM-- IT'S LIKE WITH

SEX-- THERE ARE 10 ZILLION

DIFFERENT WORDS FOR THESE

THINGS--

>> Jon: I GOT TO BE HONEST

WITH YOU, NOT SURE HOW YOU

SEGUED THAT.

( LAUGHTER )

( APPLAUSE ).

>> Jon: WHEN-- WHEN YOU'RE AN

ECONOMIST, YOU CAN DO THAT

BECAUSE FOR ME, TAX REFORM

REQUEST THE IT'S LIKE SEX."

NO, REALLY-- BUT YOU'VE DONE AN

EXCELLENT JOB THERE.

WILL THE DEMOCRATS HAVE THE

ABILITY TO, BECAUSE THEY ALSO

REPRESENT SO MANY VARIED

INTERESTS, STREAMLINE THE TAX

CODE IN THAT MANNER, TOO?

CAN THEY PUT FORWARD SOMETHING

SIMPLE LIKE THIS?

>> NO, BECAUSE WE-- THEY NEED TO

COMPROMISE.

BECAUSE THE REPUBLICANS WILL

FILIBUSTER ANYTHING THEY DON'T

LIKE, AND IT'S VERY LIKELY THEY

MAY GET CONTROL OF THE SENATE

THIS YEAR, TOO.

>>TOO.

>> Jon: WITHOUT REPUBLICAN

OPPOSITION WOULD THE DEMOCRATS

DO THAT?

DO YOU HAVE FAITH IN THEIR

ABILITY TO MANAGE THAT WITHOUT

EVEN OPPOSITION?

>> NO, I THINK THE BIG PROBLEM--

( LAUGHTER )

THE BIG PROBLEM I HAVE THE

DEMOCRATS IS THEY DON'T HAVE THE

COURAGE OF THEIR OWN

CONVICTIONS.

THE REPUBLICANS TREAT THEM LIKE

DIRT, AND THEY NEVER FIGHT BACK.

THEY DON'T DO ANYTHING.

( APPLAUSE )

>> Jon: THERE'S GOING TO BE A

RECKONING.

IT'S GOING TO GET TO SUCH A

RIDICULOUS PLACE THAT THOSE TWO

PARTIES ARE GOING TO FRACTURE

AND SOMETHING NEW WILL COME IN,

A COLD RAIN IS-- NO?

( LAUGHTER )

YOU'RE THINKING WITH SEX AGAIN,

AREN'T YOU!

SON OF A GUN!

( APPLAUSE )

YOU'VE GOT TO GET THIS.

YOU'LL READ IT AND GET MAD,

WHICH IS GOOD.

"THE BENEFIT AND THE BURDEN" ON

THE BOOKSHELVES

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