In his recent letter, Steve Davis still refuses to admit the simple truth about the Reagan tax rate cuts. Let's look at the numbers one more time.
Total tax revenue went from $599.3 billion in fiscal '81 to $991.1 billion in fiscal '89, a gain of 66.7 percent in eight years. Why? Because GDP went up from $3,210.9 trillion to $5,657.7 trillion during those same years, a jump of 76.2 percent. Consequently, with GDP skyrocketing as it did, even though tax receipts mushroomed, they fell from 19.1 percent of GDP to 17.8 percent - a truly wonderful thing.
So why did the national debt go up? We need look no further than government outlays and who controls the purse - Congress. In fiscal 1981, Congress spent $678.2 billion, resulting in a $79 billion deficit in Jimmy Carter's final year. (Note that the $678.2 billion figure is over $300 billion less than the fiscal '89 tax receipts.)
Unfortunately for us, in fiscal 1989, Congress ramped up spending to $1,143.7 trillion, or $465.5 billion more than eight years earlier. They increased spending by 68.6 percent, leading to a $152.6 billion deficit in Reagan's last year. Would tax receipts have risen by 66.7 percent and GDP by 76.2 percent absent the tax rate cuts? I personally doubt it very strongly. It is disingenuous, however, to blame the large increase in the national debt on anything but the spending side of the equation.
The problem is out-of-control spending - always has been, is now, and always will be.
Corvallis (Dec. 15)