Trump awards Arthur Laffer Medal of Freedom
President Donald Trump is awarding Dr. Arthur Laffer -- the “Father of Supply-Side Economics” -- the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The move to award him the nation’s highest civilian honor is a testament to the enormous work Laffer has done in shifting the economic policy debate towards incentivizing production. The implementation of his policy ideals has led to a massive reduction in extreme poverty worldwide.
Laffer’s work in economics dates back to the 1970s. Working with Dr. Robert Mundell, he sought to affect a “Copernican Revolution” in economic policy. The “Mundell-Laffer Hypothesis,” summed up nicely by Jude Wanniski, posited most importantly that the only truly closed economy is the world’s economy and that one of the best cures to the stagflation crisis of the day was a stable dollar.
But if it was his early work with Mundell that Laffer’s prowess as an economist, it was his famed “Laffer Curve” that solidified his spot on the map. The Laffer Curve was used to illustrate the point that if the government increased incentives for people to produce (i.e. work) by cutting taxes, the corresponding economic growth has the potential to increase tax revenues. The economic growth that supply-siders believe will materialize stems from individuals working longer or harder, or making investments in the market, their education, or their own entrepreneurism.
When President Ronald Reagan and then-Fed chair Paul Volcker followed these prescriptions in the 1980s, it set off an economic boom that pulled the economy out of the nose dive it was in during the Carter years. In his capacity on President Reagan’s economic policy advisory board, he pushed for tax rate cuts that were enshrined into law in 1981 and again in 1986. A New York Times opinion piece by the Hoover Institution's Martin Anderson even referred to the policy that Laffer helped craft as the cause of “the greatest economic expansion the world has ever seen -- in any country, at any time.”
As Anderson noted:
“From November 1982, when President Ronald Reagan's new economic program was beginning to take effect, to November 1989, 18.7 million new jobs were created. It was a world record…
The amount of wealth produced during this seven-year period was stupendous -- some $30 trillion worth of goods and services. Again, it was a world record…
Under President Reagan, top personal income tax rates were lowered dramatically, from 70 percent to 28 percent. This policy change was the prime force behind the record-breaking economic expansion. Interest rates and inflation also fell sharply and, so far, have stayed comfortably low…
When you add up the record of the Reagan years… the conclusion is clear, inescapable and stunning. We have just witnessed America's Great Expansion.”
More recently in 2015, Laffer -- alongside fellow economists Steve Forbes, Larry Kudlow, and Steve Moore -- formed the Committee to Unleash Prosperity with the intent of refocusing national attention on five economic principles: a broad-based, low-rate flat tax, reining in the growth of federal spending, less regulation, sound money, and free trade. He further served as an economic advisor to the 2016 campaign of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and helped guide the economic policies that ultimately led to 2017’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Committee to Unleash Prosperity is currently pushing a “Zero-for-Zero” campaign to encourage a bilateral disarmament of tariffs and trade barriers between the United States and China with hopes of enacting freer trade between these nations.
Laffer has a long-established record of moving the policy needle toward greater economic growth. He will be remembered for lifting millions out of poverty and unleashing decades of economic prosperity. He is finally receiving the award he deserves!
Nathan Williamson is an activist who has worked for multiple conservative organizations.