Tag Archives: Arthur Laffer

Hey look, a Republican candidate!

The candidate and his base. From the John Klar for Governor Facebook page.

John Klar, a man of many talents including authorship of far-right commentaries on True North Reports, and the possessor of a notable chin, has become the first Republican candidate for governor in 2020.

Gov. Phil Scott, the Republican incumbent, has said he won’t announce his intentions until next spring. But he’s gonna run, let there be no doubt.

And he has nothing to fear from Mr. Klar, whose ideology is such a mixed bag that even the Never Scotters may have a hard time flocking to his banner. Klar’s message is roughly equal parts Ethan Allen, Arthur Laffer, and the prosperity gospel on a societal level. That is, he believes if government gets out of the way, everyone will rise out of poverty and into prosperity.

Klar calls himself and his followers “Agripublicans,” adherents to the notion that Vermont has suffered an Edenic fall from its original state of grace due to the excesses of big government and the depredations of flatlanders. In short, he’s the one true advocate for Making Vermont Great Again.

Of course, this golden age of liberty, prosperity and rugged individualism — centered on the life-giving profession of farming — is less a historic reality and more a picture postcard. But hey, a man can dream.

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We have displeased our benevolent overlords

Hey, remember when Vermont was ranked third in the nation by Politico magazine as a place to live?

Well, here comes the flip side, courtesy of none other than the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), that overflowing cascade of Kochian “economic liberty” bushwa. It ranks Vermont #49 in “economic outlook,” which is a very interesting way to put it. Because what they are ranking is not actual, tangible economic health — it’s how the state is poised for intangible future prosperity. And it is measured in terms of taxation and regulation.

But wait, it gets better. The lead author of the ALEC report is none other than Arthur Laffer. Yep, the guy behind the Laffer Curve, the absolutely unproven bit of dogma that claims you’ll create more revenue by cutting taxes, because the tax cuts will stimulate a cornucopia of prosperity.

Well, not only is it absolutely unproven; when it’s been tried in the real world, the results have been dismal. The Laffer Curve isn’t a coherent, evidence-based economic practice; it’s the money shot in a right-wing porn flick.

In case you think I’m overstating my case, let’s look at a state deemed praiseworthy by ALEC.

Kansas.

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Nobody’s figured out how to make this economy work

Vermont Republicans are fond of slamming the Shumlin Economy, cherrypicking statistics that make the Governor’s record look bad. They criticize his policies as crippling to economic growth and middle-class prosperity. (And now that Bernie Sanders is running for President, they try to blame all the ills of the last three decades on him, even though he hasn’t been running the place and would clearly have adopted very different policies if he had been. Protip to Republicans: correlation is not causation.)

And yes, in spite of very low unemployment, it’s inarguable that the recovery has been slow and spotty for most Vermonters. Their purchasing power has remained stagnant. But this isn’t just a Vermont phenomenon, and if you look at other states with conservative governments, they’re failing at least as badly as we are.

Last Friday, Talking Points Memo posted a piece about how four Republican governors are seeing their presidential aspirations undercut by severe budget problems back home — problems attributable to the failure of their policies to hotwire their economies.

The basic concept is as cartoonish as when it was first sketched on a napkin by Arthur Laffer: cut taxes and the economy will flourish. Revenues will rise, as government takes a smaller slice of a growing pie. Business, freed of its public-sector shackles, will lead us into a prosperous future.

Trouble is, it doesn’t work. In Louisiana, WIsconsin, Ohio and New Jersey, Republican tax-cutting policies have failed: all four states have sluggish economies and huge budget shortfalls. It’s worse on both sides than anything Peter Shumlin has inflicted on the state of Vermont.

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