Ronald Reagan Centennial Tribute with Art Laffer


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During the reception which proceeded the dinner I had the opportunity to see and/or interact with several familiar and many new faces. Among the 150 attendees were former Congressman Chris Cox, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Central Committee Chair Scott Baugh, Flash Report publisher Jon Fleishman , Jim Lacy, General Counsel to the Consumer Product Safety Commission during President Reagan’s Administration, former Treasurer Chris Street, former Westminster Councilman Kermit Marsh, Cal Watchdog Editor-in-Chief Steve Greenhut and current Register editorial staff Betty Talbert, Brian Calle and Mike Tipping.
Master of ceremonies Hugh Hewitt, Assistant Counsel to president Reagan, introduced keynote speaker Art Laffer who shared his personal experiences while serving as an economic advisory board member in the Reagan White House.
While I won’t cover Mr. Laffer’s entire 30 minute presentation or the Q & A which followed let me provide a peek into his assessment of economics during the Reagan Administration. Art opened to make a point that “marginal tax rates matter.” He went on to say that “the highest marginal rate when Reagan took office was 70% of unearned income.” That rate eventually came down to 28%. Are pointed out that “when you look at marginal taxes, what your really cutting marginal tax rate for is to change people’s behavior.”
“The tax receipts for 1980, and we have all the tax receipts, the IRS does. In 1980 there were 93 million tax filers in the US. Of those the top 1%, 930,000 people, comprised the top 1% income earners in that year. If you go to the IRS records,  which are probably the best data that exists, the top 1% of income earners in 1980 before the Reagan tax cut, the top 1% of income earners paid 17.5% of all income taxes in the US. That’s not the correct measure. They paid 1.5% of GDP, in income taxes  Over the next 25 years the post Reagan revolution, taxes rates came down everywhere.
In 2007, the latest year for which we have data, and by the way, the straight line throughout the period there are 130 million tax returns filed in the US, the top 1% comprised 1.3 million people. In 2007 the top 1% of income earners in the United States paid 42.5% of all income taxes in the US.
“The correct measure to use is that the top one percent of income earners, their taxes, divided by GDP, was 3.2 percent. Total tax receipts as a share of GDP in that period of the tax cut, more than doubled from the top one percent of income earnings. That’s an incentive. That was the change that Reagan brought about in fiscal policy.”
Art also touched on macro economics as it related to regulations, our monetary policy, trade and income policies as the keys to prosperity. He reminded us that when president Reagan  took office the prime was 21.5%.
I wish to commend  Pacific Research Institute president/CEO Sally Pipes and  for another very informative program. For those not familiar with this SF based Think Tank let me simply quote from the event flyer.
“The Pacific Research Institute (PRI) champions freedom, opportunity, and personal responsibility by advancing free-market policy solutions. It  provides practical solutions for the policy issues that impact the daily lives of all Americans . PRI demonstrates why the free market is more effective than government at  providing the important results we all seek: good schools, quality health care, a clean environment, and a robust economy.”
Art Laffer

Art Laffer

Last night I attended Pacific Research Institute’s “Ronald Reagan Centennial Tribute ” at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach with 150 other guests. Former president Ronald Reagan, the Gipper, would have been 100 years old this Sunday.


About Larry Gilbert