The father of supply-side economics, Arthur Laffer, speaks in Tampa

For the bulk of his speech, Laffer recited a history of U.S. presidents and their records on raising or cutting taxes.


He blasted Herbert Hoover for placing the biggest tax increase on trade and products in the 20s, and criticized FDR for raising the highest tax rate to 89 percent.


"That's why the Great Depression was the Great Depression," he said.


He applauded JFK for reducing the highest tax rate of an astounding 91 percent down to 70 percent, as well as reducing the highest corporate tax rate to 48 percent (he said Kennedy wanted to go to 46 percent, but Senate Republicans wanted it higher).


He called the presidents who held office after Kennedy but before Ronald Reagan, "the 4 stooges," for their tax plans, and then reserved a series of hosannas for his former boss, President Reagan.


"The skies cleared, the trees blossomed ... children danced in the streets," he said, only slightly joking. Reagan reduced the highest tax rate in the country from 70 percent to 28 percent.


Laffer also praised Bill Clinton (though he didn't mention how Clinton raised taxes in 1993, allowing conditions for a boom period to blossom). He cited Clinton's passage of NAFTA and welfare reform, and praised the last Democrat to be elected to the White House before Barack Obama.


Despite the fact that George W. Bush cuts taxes twice during his first term in office, Laffer had no love for him, saying that he and President Obama were "twins" in their economic policies.

  • Arthur Laffer indulges before speaking in Tampa

Known as the "father" of supply-side economics, 72-year-old Arthur Laffer made a short appearance in Tampa on Wednesday afternoon, giving a quick history of tax cuts throughout the last century. Laffer then introduced Herman Cain, who was in town for his Truth Tour.

Supply-side economics is the theory that cutting taxes on the rich will unleash an avalanche of new investments that will spur economic growth, and boost job creation. It's what Mitt Romney believes in, and it's what Barack Obama said, "got us into this mess in the first place."

Arthur Laffer was a member of Ronald Reagan's Economic Policy Advisory Board for both of his terms in the 1980s, and will forever be known for the "Laffer Curve," which came about after he grabbed a napkin to sketch a curve of the tradeoff between tax rates and tax revenues.

A one-time adviser to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Laffer said he bailed out of the Golden State in 2006 after the action movie hero raised taxes. Laffer took his 20-member staff to Nashville (Tennessee, like Florida, has no state income taxes).

He called Cain's "9-9-9" tax plan "brilliant" — the plan would eliminate the existing tax code and replace it with a 9 percent tax on personal income, a 9 percent business tax, and a 9 percent national sales tax. In a bit of economist humor, he joked that it would have been better at 8.7 percent, but admitted that didn't roll off the tongue like 9-9-9.

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