Changing the Curriculum & Course Offerings on Your Campus

Changing University Courses and Curriculum Now that you're at college and the initial excitement has worn off, maybe you're thinking that the course selection is a bit biased and you'd like some options.

So how do you (the consumer) get the college (the business) to change up its offerings? It certainly won't be easy. Nevertheless it's something that should be done--particularly since you're footing the bill.

A good, education in a free society requires the exploration of ideas, weighing both sides of issues, and even learning to challenge authority by asking difficult questions. Many college and university classes completely fail in this regard. Those who teach these classes will protest, but the truth is obvious to all who are willing to look with open eyes.

Can you help bring real intellectual diversity to the classroom? For that matter, how can you possibly know what you should learn if you haven't yet learned it?

To start, take a look at the course offerings from Hillsdale College and Grove City College. Why these two colleges in particular? Because those are the only two colleges in the United States that do not accept federal money. In other words, they are the only independent colleges in the country. And as a result they have continued the tradition of educating students to be free men and women.

Two good groups to reach out to are the National Association of Scholars and the Pope Center for Higher Education Reform. They are non-profit organizations devoted to reforming higher education in America.

The Leadership Institue (LI) is also helping students in this endeavor with their Conservativism 101 effort, which aims to bring classes on conservative philosophy to various campuses around the country. LI claims successes on campuses such as American University, Brown University, and University of Virginia. Learn more here about how LI will support you in the endeavor. 

Now that you have an idea about the types of courses you'd like to see your college or university offer, it's time to get the lay of the land and to network.

  1. Set specific and realistic goals. Do you want to see a class on say "The Founder's Views on Liberty" added to the History offerings? Do you want to see a series of classes? If so, be specific. Also, don't expect to be able to reform an entire major or discipline from the get-go. That's not going to happen. It's best to work around the edges by introducing a few classes.
  2. Meet with the appropriate school officials. Don't come into the meeting loaded for bear. Be friendly and polite. Find out what it would take to get your specific goal and what the time frame would be for new classes to be added.
  3. How that meeting goes will dictate your next moves.
  4. If the school works with you, great. But be careful; they may act like they're working with you, but really just dragging their feet. Ask for them to set deadlines and keep on the process. If the process fails, go to step five.
  5. Before you go any further, you're going to need to make a commitment to this cause. You probably will have to commit to something that may take multiple semesters to accomplish. Understand that you may want to get activist training from the Leadership Institute. Don't forget to contact Intellectual Takeout, too. 
  6. Reach out to the conservative/libertarian/freedom-loving students on your campus. You'll know the local terrain best, but it's critical to have many voices. Let them know what your specific goals are and how you would like to work together to accomplish them. Additionally, because changing up course offerings does take time, it's good to have a group behind the push for change because that will provide for continuity in the efforts. 
  7. Begin to market your idea. Write letters to the school paper, distribute flyers, put up posters, etc.
  8. Once you have a solid network of students that want to see change, do an on-campus petition. Build your numbers.
  9. Take the petition to your school's administration. Show them that you're not the only one who would like to have more intellectual diversity on campus.
  10. If the school begins to work with you, good job! If the school refuses to work with you and you want to continue attending the school, go to step eleven.
  11. Have students contact their parents. Parents are often the one's paying for college educations. Show them the type of courses you would like the school to offer. No doubt, they'll support your effort. It's not like you're asking for money to host a kegger.
  12. Once you prove that you can build a movement for change on campus and have parent support, approach the school administration again. If they're still not willing to work with you, it's time to consider ramping up your efforts.
  13. A good first step to ramping up your efforts would be to reach out to off-campus, local conservative and libertarian think tanks and organizations. The State Policy Network is a good place to look for contacts. You might also want to consider reaching out to local tea party groups since many have an existing grassroots network. And, of course, let Intellectual Takeout know what's going on.
  14. Publicize your effort in the community. Again, seek out training to do all of this at the Leadership Institute. Contact local business leaders, the school's alumni, and tax payers if you are at a state school (their money often subsidizes some portion of the schools activities). Particularly for state schools, contact elected officials. Contact the local news sources and chambers of commerce. Also, let the national organizations and talking heads know about your effort. Put videos up on YouTube. National attention will help.
  15. Take the petition signed by students and start to get the same thing going around the local community or state. 

Your goal is to leverage the alumni community and the surrounding community (and even the national community) to get change going. Many, many people out there are displeased by what colleges and universities are calling "education" these days. You have many allies; you just need to organize them and focus their energy.

In everything you do, be respectful and polite, but don't back down. Don't be intimidated. You are paying for an education that is likely skewing your worldview to the left simply by exposing you mainly to those ideas. Why pay for that? Take back your future by demanding more.

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Commentary or Blog Post

"We have heard many times from President Barack Obama how he plans to raise taxes on 'millionaires and billionaires,' but not on the middle class. Apparently, if you don't happen to be a millionaire or billionaire, you don't have to worry.

But the numbers say otherwise -- and say so big time."

This Cato piece examines the Andrew Mellon inspired tax cuts of the 1920s. It claims that these cuts created economic growth and increased individual prosperity -- and not just for the rich. In addition, these tax cuts ended up increasing government revenue.

This article discusses proposed tax cuts during 1999. It offers multiple reasons why across the board tax cuts are beneficial to the economy. First, unlike targeted tax relief they "don't discriminate by rewarding only taxpayers favored by politicians." Secondly, as people get to keep more of their money, they will spend and invest more. Finally, a tax cut removes revenue from the government;...

"As Washington scrambles to find the 'just right' package that will allow enough of Congress to vote for an increase in the debt ceiling, some leaders have asked those Americans who make more money to be willing to pay more taxes, calling for fairness to be reflected in the tax code. However, new research from Bruce Yandle finds that from 1979 to 2007 the individual income tax burden on the...

"Rarely do spectacular entrepreneurs leave their realm of business for the political arena. One exception is Andrew Mellon, the third-wealthiest American of his era, who left a dazzling career in American industry to become secretary of treasury under Presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. ...

As treasury secretary Mellon confronted three major crises: a...

Paul Krugman argues that tax cuts are a poor immediate stimulus for the economy. He argues that one-time tax cuts do little to increase demand, and long-term spending increases also have little effect. However, short term economic spending has a stimulatory effect and is a better choice than short term tax cuts.

"If one needs further proof that the current political climate breeds sophistry should have been listening to a recent television interview featuring former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.

To cut current taxes, Reich commented, would be 'risky' and 'irresponsible.' Any tax cuts would endanger economic growth and starve the government, he said. Besides, he added, the American...

"The reduction in the payroll tax rates moves in the right direction, and Mercatus Center scholar and economist Veronique de Rugy says that the federal budget can still be balanced without an increase in tax rates. ...

'Balancing the budget without raising taxes is already doable,' said de Rugy. 'It requires that we cut $128 billion every year in projected spending growth. We’re not...

I frequently write about the perverse impact of double taxation. By this, I mean the tendency of politicians to impose multiple layers of taxation on income that is saved and invested.

According to former Labor Secretary, Robert Reich, Americans need an extension of unemployment benefits rather than a tax cut extension. Reich argues that the tax cut only helps the rich, declaring that "The unemployed need the money. The rich don't."

This article argues that proposed tax hikes will significantly harm the economy. First, the author demonstrates that including all taxes, not just federal income taxes, middle-class Americans will pay a large share of their income to the government. Mr. Boskin argues this creates a "[r]ecipe for economic stagnation, socioeconomic ossification, and the loss of American global competitiveness...

In this article, Williamson discusses the main disadvantage of tax cuts - a smaller budget to work with. Many politicians fail to take into consideration that when taxes are cut, the tax revenue the government receives also decreases, which may make it harder to properly plan the budget. The problem is receiving not enough revenue while still planning a large...

"Ezra Klein brandishes a graph comparing employment and economic growth under the Clinton tax increase versus the Bush tax cuts. He says it refutes the Republican argument that 'you can't reconcile higher taxes and growth.' I'll acknowledge that it proves tax increases generally and the Clinton tax rates specifically can be compatible with growth. I'll even concede many Republicans predicted...

Do higher taxes provide a disincentive to work? Greg Mankiw thinks so. In this article he explains how proposed tax increases decrease his desire to work. Basically, if taxes are higher, then the pay off for working decreases. If he can keep more of his money, he will have a greater desire to work. He explains this is specifically true for the affluent. All other things equal, Mankiw makes the...

"In December 2010, Congress extended the research and development (R&D) tax credit through tax year 2011, but it has since lapsed and has not yet been renewed for 2012. The tax credit was first enacted in 1981 in an effort to improve the international competitiveness of American businesses by encouraging innovation and new technology.

Concerned about the budgetary impact of lost tax...

This article discusses Keynesian economics and how it has become popular again due to the declining economy. Since tax cuts do not seem to be working, a different approach should be taken. Keynesian economics calls for government spending to counter a recession instead of cutting taxes to spur consumer spending. During a recession, consumers don't always spend as...

Are tax cuts Keynesian? Mitchell argues they are not, despite Dana Milbank's claims. He concedes that Republican politicians often use Keynesian logic to defend tax cuts, but that merely obfuscates the free-market position. Mitchell explains that low taxes are great growth policies because they promote greater freedom in the market. The more the market is free, the better it will perform.

This blog is a snippet of an interview Peter Robinson did with Milton Friedman about tax cuts. In his explanation, Friedman explains that the government has a moral duty to make tax cuts whenever there is a surplus, or even if there is not a surplus. It is the people's money, not the government's money and the people have a right to keep it. It is the government's...

"We need to pinch pennies these days. Don’t you know we have a budget deficit? For months that has been the word from Republicans and conservative Democrats, who have rejected every suggestion that we do more to avoid deep cuts in public services and help the ailing economy.

But these same politicians are eager to cut checks averaging $3 million each to the richest 120,000 people in the...

"With unemployment hovering near 10 percent nearly two years after President Obama signed his economic stimulus package, Mr. Obama is acknowledging that, despite his campaign promises, 'there's no such thing as shovel-ready projects.'

The president gave that remark in an hour-long interview with the New York Times.

Mr. Obama also told the Times that he should have 'let the...

"'How will we pay for the tax cut?'

I laugh when I hear that question because it’s so obviously illogical. If the government were to cut taxes, say, by lowering rates or outright repeal, people would simply be free to hold on to money they otherwise would have sent to the IRS under threat of punishment. Allowing them to keep that money requires no expenditure. If the tax cut is dramatic...

This article discusses why short term "stimulus" tax cuts are ineffective. According to Taylor, "Temporary increases in income won’t lead to significant increases in consumption. However, with longer-term increases, such as a permanent tax cut, consumption is not only increased but significantly so."

"The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has found that extending the Bush tax cuts will ultimately hurt the economy. The mechanism for this injury? These tax cuts’ impact on national debt. You may recall this is the very same crowding out argument that CBO made in June when considering our government’s general long-term debt burden. This argument is sound and simple: when government borrows,...

In this article, Moore discusses the falsities that surround the Reagan tax cuts. Many people believe it was the Reagan Administration that damaged the economy, however, Reagan actually inherited the damaged economy. When Jimmy Carter left office, the United States economy was in very bad shape, but with the tax cuts Reagan revived it. By the time his presidency...

This week, Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellow Veronique de Rugy uses data from the Internal Revenue Service’s Statistics of Income to show the number of U.S. millionaires and their relative contributions in paid income taxes.

In this article, Bernstein discusses the differences between the Reagan tax cuts and the Bush tax cuts. Each had varying degrees of success, which is due to the the monetary policies enacted during that time. The monetary policy during the Reagan administration was much more strict than that of the Bush Administration, which is why the Reagan tax cuts were more...

Keynesian stimulus is supposed to have a multiplier effect; if the government spends a dollar at the baker, and then the baker takes that dollar and spends it at the cobbler, one dollar of stimulus turns into two dollars in the economy. Greg Mankiw examines recent economic work that demonstrates taxes have a higher multiplier effect compared to government spending. He also explains -- contrary...

In this article, Moore makes it clear that tax cuts are in fact good for the economy, unless paired with reckless spending. This happened during George Bush's second term when his $2.6 trillion budget increased national spending and debt at an exponential rate. His budget was larger and called for more funds then every other president before him combined.

In this article, Moore discusses the main reason why tax cuts can be ineffective. Tax cuts usually aren't around for the long run; whenever an administration implements a tax cut there is usually a date in which the tax cut will end. This practice, which is called sunsetting, complicates the tax code and makes it harder for people to follow. Moore's solution to...

Many discussions of tax cuts involve government budget concerns. A cut in taxes increases personal consumption but decreases government spending due to a loss of funds. The Laffer curve posited that a decrease in taxes could lead to an increase in personal wealth and government revenue. Greg Mankiw lays out the basic framework for this curve.

"Most supporters of the free market agree that high taxes are harmful to overall living standards and economic activity. But it is often less than clear why this is, even to opponents of taxation. In this think piece, Terry Arthur uses insights from the Austrian school to demonstrate clearly why it is that taxes are so bad, and that anybody who believes in free trade between countries cannot...

This is a blog post about the $70 billion tax cut passed by Congress under the Bush Administration. It explains that this new tax cut will not cause a major increase in the nation's deficit because it is supposed to span five years. It also presents other facts to show the tax cuts have had and will have little negative effect on the economy and the nation.

In this article, Sowell discusses the misconception many people have about "trickle down" economics. Many people believe that implementing tax cuts is a form of trickle down economics, as is our entire economic system, but that is not true. The people who always get paid first no matter what are the workers, even if the company is not making any profits. Trickle...

In this article, Crane and Edwards discuss the benefits of across the boards tax cuts. Reducing tax cuts on savings inevitably brings about gains in capital, for everyone. Tax rates for businesses should also be reduced, so they are capable of competing in the global market. Lowering the barrier of entry will make it easier for entrepreneurs to start a business....

This article argues that tax cuts do not stimulate the economy in the Keynesian sense. Instead, a decrease in taxes creates a greater pool from which the private sector invests money. This leads to long-term growth. However, the author warns that tax cuts without budget cuts will not increase the funding pool, and therefore tax cuts will have no real effect. He argues that if government...

"Tax expenditures are, quite simply, spending programs implemented through the tax code. These programs give people and businesses special tax credits, deductions, exclusions, exemptions, deferrals, and preferential rates in support of various government policies. Some of these programs help people save for retirement, buy a home, or pay for college; others encourage companies to invest in...

This article argues that high taxes hurt even the rich. It argues that high taxes for the rich rarely ever create the government revenue projected by lawmakers. The article also argues that the rich possess greater mobility; if taxes become too high, they will migrate to countries with lowers taxes. This migration causes both a capital and brain drain.

This paper examines the Mellon tax cuts of the 1920s. These tax cuts increased economic activity, helped all members of society, increased government revenues, and helped pull the country out of the 1920s recession.

Recent state "millionaire" taxes prove a possible warning about raising taxes on the rich. This article argues that high taxes on the rich encourage them to migrate, rarely increase government revenue to the predicted levels and significantly harm private business and entrepreneurship. In the US, high tax states have lost business and capital to low cost states.

It was 40 years ago today that The Beatles launched Apple Records. The label's trademark green Apple logo appeared on albums by The Beatles and other artists the band helped discover.

The US tax code is very complex. Cutting taxes can mean a litany of things. This article details the Bils-Klenow stimulus plan for cutting payroll taxes. According to the plan's authors, cutting payroll taxes has the same demand side impact as cutting check,s but also stimulates employment directly. They list other advantages as well.

"Proposals for tax reductions during periods of a weak economy are inevitably followed by a discussion of the stimulus effects that such cuts will have on economic activity over the next year or so. Less often is the focus on the more important issue, which is whether a tax cut helps in the long run. Tax cuts make sense for two reasons: First, government spending responds to tax revenues, so...

This piece suggests that the tax increases of the Clinton administration were more successful at spurring economic growth than the tax cuts of the Bush administration. A piece from the American Spectator comments on Klein's suggestion and argues that there is more than...

This article argues that lower taxes boost the economy, help the poor, and rarely harm government revenue. In attempting to prove this thesis, Mitchell examines three major tax cuts, the Mellon, Kennedy, and Reagan tax cuts.

"A poll in March reported that most people would prefer 'deficit reduction' to 'tax cuts.' Polls and the media lie all the time, but this one refutes itself. If people really wanted to be taxed, they would pay up without being threatened by audits, fines, special agents, and jail terms.

No need to speculate on the result of funding the feds voluntarily, however. Americans would not send...

This blog post shows that the Reagan tax cuts actually helped the economy and the government in the long run. Although Reagan and his administration were mistaken in their initial revenue forecasts, ultimately the tax cuts created more total taxable income thus creating more tax revenue. Not only did the people benefit from the tax cut, but contrary to popular...

This collection offers a variety of history on American taxation. The information on the colonial tax issues which led to the American Revolution is particularly interesting.

"The first order of business for a Republican president next year should be corporate-tax reform. But even if Republicans win big in the fall, undoing America's largest policy error will be an almost impossible political lift, unless enough people in both parties come to grips with the counterintuitive economics of corporate-tax reform.

The U.S. is radically out of step with...

"Two ways to make government bigger involve borrowing money and imposing progressive taxes. A third notable technique is tax expenditures. Tax expenditures allow the scope of government activities to increase without going through the nasty process of an explicit government appropriation and transfer payment.

Under conventional wisdom, tax expenditures can take many different forms. A...

This article examines two methods through the lenses of history: Targeted relief for the poor and middle class during post-war Britain and across the board tax cuts during the 1950s and 60's in Germany.

The author argues that the British tax cuts failed; they attempted to redistribute wealth instead of grow the economy. In contrast, the West German government -- against the wishes of...

"Mr. McConnell, who was self-righteously denouncing the budget deficit just the other day, now wants to blow that deficit up with big tax cuts for the rich. But he doesn’t have the votes. So he’s trying to get what he wants by pointing a gun at the heads of middle-class families, threatening to force a jump in their taxes unless he gets paid off with hugely expensive tax breaks for the wealthy...

Twenty high-profile economists have urged the government to drop the top 50p tax rate, which they say is doing 'lasting damage' to the UK economy.

"President Obama took to Twitter last week to advertise the fact that 1,470 millionaires paid no federal income tax in 2009. The White House has proposed a 'Buffett Rule' mandating that taxpayers earning more than $1 million pay at least 30 percent of their income in federal income taxes. However, the unfairness the Obama administration has identified is only one limited, albeit particularly...

"By definition, taxes are funds seized from private individuals by force of law. If people really wanted to pay them, they wouldn't be taxes. Government would work like a charitable organization and try to persuade people to send in their money. I'm all for that solution, but so long as this is not the case, let's have an end to opinion polls that pretend to tell us that people love paying...

"Tax Day 2011 is Monday, April 18. But where does all our money go? What are all those IRS checks for?

Here are five ways to look at our tax receipt and the way our tax dollars are used to define our national values. In the gallery below, I've also included a handful of images that dive deeply into the question, How Much Money Do We Fork Over? and How Is the Money Spent?"

This article argues that one-time tax cuts do not stimulate the economy. These cuts do not change underlying behavior. As such, they do not change aggregate demand. Instead, the author argues for permanent tax cuts. He argues that if the public knows tax cuts will be consistent, underlying behavior will change to stimulate the economy.

"Tax cuts work when they stimulate consumption. President Bush's $150 billion tax cut didn't do this and any tax cuts that President Obama puts in place aren't likely to stimulate people to spend if they are worried about losing their jobs."

"If you grew up in Minnesota, then you’ve no doubt seen the old Time magazine cover from 1973 touting 'The Good Life in Minnesota' with former Gov. Wendell Anderson proudly displaying a freshly caught northern pike. The title of the story was 'Minnesota: A State that Works.' This cover story has been used time and again by folks investigating whether Minnesota still stands out as a state that...

"How much will the $300 billion in tax cuts approved today by the House Ways & Means Committee really stimulate the economy? They will help some, but don’t expect them to accomplish a lot.

I’d give the overall plan a Gentleman’s C. Some provisions would channel money to low-income people most likely to spend it, but deliver the cash too slowly. Others distribute the funds...

Chart or Graph

President Kennedy proposed massive tax-rate reductions, which were passed by Congress and became law after he was assassinated. The Kennedy tax cut set the example that President Ronald Reagan would follow some 17 years later.

Reagan's marginal tax-rate cuts resulted in higher incentives to work, produce, and invest, and the economy responded (See Table 7). Between 1978 and 1982, the economy grew at a 0.9 percent annual rate in real terms, but from 1983 to 1986 this annual growth rate increased to 4.8 percent.

"The receipt speaks for itself. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, interest and Middle East wars accounts for the vast majority of our budget. The upshot: Cutting foreign aid and making senators take a pay cut snips insignificantly from the total receipt."

This chart illustrates the growth in income for all groups under the Reagan Administration while the tax cuts were in place. Although this is not necessarily proof that the tax cuts were good for the economy, tax cuts appeared to be good for the American people. With growth in income, people are more likely to spend or invest more.

This graph looks at average effective tax rates by income quartile. What this graph leaves out is that once you journey into the top 0.1 percentile, you begin to see effective tax rates fall, since the richest Americans earn most of their income via capital gains and dividends.

"Figure 2 compares the historical trend in nonpayers to the historical trend of total federal government spending in constant 2010 dollars, adjusted for population, from 1950 to 2010."

"Figure 3 compares the historical trend of nonpayers to the trend of transfer payments between 1950 and 2010 in constant 2010 dollars, adjusted for population. ... From 1950 through the late 1960s, the growth of nonpayers and the growth of transfer payment spending appear to have very minimal correlation."

This graph breaks down the American population into six income groups and describes each group's average income, tax rate, and amount of taxes paid.

Effective R&D Tax Credit for Large Firms in Selected Countries, cents per dollar of R&D expenditure, 2008-2009.

"Figure 5 details the historical trend of nonpayers compared to the historical trend of government debt as a percent of GDP."

This chart illustrates that it was the lower and middle classes who suffered from the tax hike during the Bush and Clinton Administrations. The politicians who wanted this tax hike were convinced that the rich would be burdened more, but this did not appear to occur.

Figure 1 depicts how the incentive for top earners to move away from Minnesota changed between 1970 and 2015 under current and proposed state and federal tax laws.

This chart compares the overall revenue growth during the Reagan Administration, when there were tax cuts, and during the Bush/Clinton Administrations, when there were tax hikes. Overall the growth was much higher under the Reagan Administration than under the Bush and Clinton Administrations combined.

This chart illustrates the economy's growth rate under each administration from Eisenhower to Clinton. Under the Kennedy and Reagan Administrations the growth rates are the highest - administrations which also implemented tax cuts.

"Government began collecting social insurance taxes for unemployment insurance in 1936, Social Security in 1937, and Medicare hospital insurance in 1966. Combined payroll taxes for these programs have ranged from 0.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1936 to 6.7% in 1998-2001...."

This pie chart shows that tax cuts are the largest contributor to large deficits. Tax cuts are responsible for almost 50% of the cumulative deficit from 2001-2007.

Despite marginal rates falling from 70 to 28, despite tax expenditures blasting wide open in the last 30 years and despite some wicked recessions, federal income as a percent of GDP has always stayed between 15 and 20 percent.

The causal story off that graph is 'in the ’90s, bringing down the deficit through a balanced mix of tax increases and spending cuts was a net positive for growth.' The correlation story off that graph is 'the ’90s were a good time for the global economy, and Clinton’s economic management was, at best, a small part of the decade’s successes.

Despite their small demographic imprint, the magnitude of their contribution in paid taxes is hard to overlook. Over the past ten years, millionaires have paid 17 to 28 percent of total income tax returns per year.

This chart puts the extension of the Bush tax cuts (as they are commonly known) in context. The cost of this extension - $700 billion – should be compared to $41.9 trillion of federal spending which is slated to occur over the same time period.

Before the Reagan administration, the income tax system resembled a tall staircase with dozens of small steps all the way up to 70 percent. Today, the highest marginal rate is only 35 percent. But as the next graph shows, federal income as a share of GDP has been pretty consistent throughout these dramatic tax reforms.

"Since the early 1960s, payroll taxes' share of government revenue has increased from 18 to 34 percent. Meanwhile, corporate income taxes' share has plummeted from 20 percent to under 10 percent in the same time, despite (or because of?) one of the highest tax rates in the developed world."

Figure 1 is a graphic illustration of the concept of the Laffer Curve--not the exact levels of taxation corresponding to specific levels of revenues.

In 1913, the federal progressive income tax was put into place with a top marginal rate of 7 percent. Because of WWI, this tax rate was quickly increased significantly and peaked at 77% in 1918. Then, through a series of tax-rate reductions, the Harding-Coolidge tax cuts dropped the top personal marginal income tax rate to 25 percent in 1925.

In 1913, the federal progressive income tax was put into place with a top marginal rate of 7 percent. Thanks in part to World War I, this tax rate quickly increased significantly and peaked at 77 percent in 1918.

"Between 1929 and 2011, the portion of the U.S. economy collected in federal, state and local taxes has ranged from 10% to 29%, with the median being 25% and the average 24%. In 2011, the figure was 25%...."

This graph shows the unemployment rates from 1973 to 1995, including the years before, during and after the Reagan Administration. The Reagan Administration saw the lowest unemployment rate during this time period. When his administration began, he inherited a high unemployment rate.

"The top 20 percent of the country took in about 53 percent of all income in 2009. They paid 67 percent of total federal taxes. This is consistent with the features of a progressive tax system, in which the richest pay a larger portion of their income in taxes."

Analysis Report White Paper

This plan proposes a dual-rate income tax. The idea is to slash rates, loopholes, and equalize rates. Individual and cooperate tax rates are lowered. Most deductions are eliminated, decreasing compliance and collection costs. The concept behind this plan is to grow a larger tax base, but charge them lower marginal rates.

"This paper shows that at zero short-term nominal interest rate tax cuts reduce output in a standard New Keynesian model. They do so because they increase deflationary pressures. Policies aimed at stimulating aggregate demand work better."

This paper examines how recent changes in global tax rates leave the US at a competitive disadvantage for attracting foreign investment unless they cut tax rates. They claim the US needs to decrease corporate and individual tax cuts. They provide brief descriptions of other countries' tax codes and how those compare to the US tax code.

This paper suggests that the form of taxation -- not the level of taxation -- is significantly more important for creating a strong economy. However, this paper argues a good form of taxation would have a low marginal rate. The study explains why a shift from income to consumption tax is the optimal choice.

Lowering corporate taxes will have a direct affect on the US GDP without a loss in revenue according to this Cato study. It claims that for every 1 percent drop in corporate tax rate, there will be a three percent gain in capital investment, and that due to Laffer effects, the US government will not lose revenue.

This paper is a critical review of a Brookings paper that claimed, "High taxes can improve economic growth" if used to shore up budget deficits. This paper argues that to be untrue. Instead, taxes should have low marginal rates to promote growth. The author contends it is immaterial whether spending is financed by taxes or deficits.

This article argues the dividend tax rate creates a bias against savings and investment, encourages companies to finance through debt instead of equity due to more favorable tax rates, and entices them into absorbing income instead of paying dividends.

This piece compares the Mellon era low tax period of the 1920's to the high tax era of the Great Depression. This article credits Andrew Mellon for bringing about a period of high growth due to low taxes during the 1920's and blames the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations for worsening the Depression through higher taxes during the 1930's.

This article argues that the complexity of the tax code inhibits growth. It suggests lowering taxes rates, cutting loopholes and decreasing complexity. The article provides numerous examples of how the tax code alters market decisions. According to this article, a low tax and straight-forward tax code is the best taxing regime.

A lower corporate tax cultivates investment opportunities and encourages companies to remain in or relocate to the US. This will grow the corporate tax base. Cato estimates, if done properly, a reduction in corporate taxes will have no negative effect on revenue due to increased volume of taxable income.

This article condemns the estate tax -- pejoratively termed the death tax -- as highly detrimental to the economy and inefficient in creating government revenue. It argues that the estate tax discourages growth and savings in later years, prompting a "die-broke ethic".

"Historically low job growth, declining wages, rising poverty and the worst deterioration in our fiscal situation in history is hardly proof that current fiscal policies are working or should be continued."

"This study also exposes 12 fables of Reaganomics, such as that the rich got richer and the poor got poorer, the Reagan tax cuts caused the deficit to explode, and Bill Clinton's economic record has been better than Reagan's."

This paper examines multiple ways budget deficits harm the American economy. As a result, the authors recommend tax increases to help reign in the debt. They suggest that under certain circumstances tax hikes can help the economy. Furthermore, they argue tax cuts have a hidden cost; present tax cuts limit future tax cuts or government spending.

This briefing discusses the falling wages, income, and benefits of middle-class Americans. For several years, the economy has been growing, but middle-class living standards have not improved at all. Some politicians have suggested making tax cuts, but the authors believe that will be ineffective.

In this white paper, Moore and Stansel analyze the difference between raising taxes and cutting taxes. They look at the records of individual states that have implemented both or one of the two choices and explain the effects. They also provide a before and after analysis.

This article examines the Bush tax cuts and identifies multiple, alleged myths regarding these tax cuts' efficacy. First, they did not pay for themselves. Secondly, tax cuts in general do not sizably stimulate the economy. Finally, they widen income inequality.

In accord with Just Facts' Standards of Credibility, all data is cited based upon availability and relevance, not to slant results by singling out specific years that are different from others. Unless otherwise stated, all facts are based upon the most recent available data at the time of initial publication, which is October 2012.

This paper by the OECD identifies the most efficient forms of taxation for growth-orientation. The most harmful tax is corporate tax followed by personal income tax. The least harmful taxes are property taxes followed by consumption taxes.

This study performed a meta analysis of numerous studies regarding corporate tax rates' effect on foreign direct investment. It discovered a ratio of roughly 1 percent decrease in corporate tax to a 3.3% gain in investment. However, while this is the average of numerous studies, the results from each individual studies varied heavily.

"Unfortunately for most Americans, the tax cuts since 2001 have not made today’s economy stronger. Over the last five fiscal years, the tax cuts have had a direct cost of $860 billion and (with interest costs) a total effect on the deficit of $929 billion. By creating excessive permanent deficits, they have lowered our future standard of living."

There has been growing concern recently about the rapid increase in the number of 'nonpayers'—those Americans who have no income tax liability because of the numerous credits and deductions in the code. As of 2010, 41 percent of tax filers—some 58 million in all—had no income tax liability after taking their credits and deductions.

"With tax day fast approaching, there is a considerable lack...

Tax cuts made by Harding/Coolidge, Kennedy, and Reagan all had positive effects on the economy - it grew substantially and the wealth of individual Americans increased as well. Whenever taxes were raised, either by Roosevelt, Bush, or Clinton, substantial damage was done to the U.S. economy.

After recounting how the "Laffer Curve" allegedly came into being, Arthur Laffer explains his theory on how tax increases and tax reductions impact the economy. Laffer looks at three major tax cuts in American history (the Coolidge, Kennedy, and Reagan tax cuts) and effectively charts the causes and effects of these tax related decisions.

"The document on your screen is page one of your briefing book on tax and budget policy, a compendium of information on a host of questions likely to be addressed during the 2008 presidential election debate and beyond."

"Tax relief worked. It put the federal tax burden on track toward its historic norm. Combined with an aggressive monetary policy, tax relief helped to restore robust economic growth following the Clinton recession and subsequent shocks early in the decade."

This article challenges the conventional assumption that income disparities in the United States are large. Census measures used to show income "inequality" ignore taxes and most of the social safety net. When accounted for, the gap between the top and the bottom wage earners shrinks dramatically.

We propose and apply a new approach for analyzing the effects of fiscal policy using vector autoregressions. Specifically, we use sign restrictions to identify a government revenue shock as well as a government spending shock, while controlling for a generic business cycle shock and a monetary policy shock.

"For good or ill, many people reduce the entire pro-growth world view of supply-side economics down to the 'Laffer Curve,' which graphically depicts the tradeoff between tax rates versus the total tax revenues actually collected by the government."

Americans now work 50 percent more than do the Germans, French, and Italians. This was not the case in the early 1970s, when the Western Europeans worked more than Americans. This article examines the role of taxes in accounting for the differences in labor supply across time and across countries; in particular, the effective marginal tax rate on labor income.


"President-elect Obama and other politicians are urging a massive expansion in government spending, ostensibly to help the economy recover. This Keynesian endeavor is supposed to boost growth by 'priming the pump' by means of circulating extra money through the economy. Yet the notion that bigger government leads to more growth is theoretically suspect: any money...

In this video, Alison Fraser and other guests on CNBC discuss the current economic situation and whether or not cutting taxes would help stimulate and grow the economy.

This video presents the pros and cons of tax cuts for businesses and Americans in general. Doren declares that lower taxes are needed to spur more investment to grow the economy, while Uygur believes tax cuts are detrimental to the budget crisis.

This is a clip of a discussion on CNBC about whether or not tax cuts do in fact stimulate the economy. It includes commentators from both sides.

In this video, Riedl discusses the heated debate surrounding the Bush tax cuts. He explains that the tax cuts were in fact a great help to the economy and tries to disprove some myths regarding them.

Primary Document

This Franklin Roosevelt campaign speech provides a snapshot of his views on the depression, taxes, and the budget. First, he argues that the effect of taxes are felt beyond the wealth confiscated. FDR claims high taxes provides disincentives to work and can cause unemployment or underutilization of factors of production. However, he claims the government has a responsibility to feed the poor...

"What, then, is the subject of our controversy with the mother country? It is this: Whether we shall preserve that security to our lives and properties, which the law of nature, the genius of the British constitution, and our charters, afford us; or whether we shall resign them into the hands of the British House of Commons, which is no more privileged to dispose of them than the Great Mogul....

This speech given by Ronald Reagen in front of Congress describes in detail his plan to cut taxes through serious decreases in the nation's budget. Reagan discusses all of the budgetary cuts he and his administration have decided upon and the amount of money each cut will save. He makes it clear that he will not get rid of crucial programs, and that he will even be...

This economic classic is noted for providing us with terms for and expositions of such key economic ideas as the division of labor, "invisible hand," self-interest as a beneficial force, and freedom of trade.

"We have met this evening to take counsel together for the purpose of securing greater efficiency in government by the application of the principles of constructive economy, in order that there may be a reduction of the burden of taxation now borne by the American people. The object sought is not merely a cutting down of public expenditures. That is only the means. Tax reduction is the end."...

As the title suggests, this selection from the Federalist Papers describes Alexander Hamilton's views on the intricacies of taxation. Hamilton continued his treatise on taxation in the following six Federalist Papers: No. 31, No. 32,...

"This act was passed by the British Parliament to forbid the American colonies from printing their own money. It was part of the efforts of Prime Minister George Grenville to reduce the national debt and rebuild the British and colonial economies by removing a confusing and inflationary mish mash of bills printed in the colonies at various times. The act actually harmed the economy by removing...

Resolved, That the following acts of Parliament are infringements and violations of the rights of the colonists; and that the repeal of them is essentially necessary, in order to restore harmony between Great Britain and the American colonies.

Predominantly written by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence formally and eloquently justified the independence of the United States from British monarch King George III.

Following the uproar in the American colonies over various taxation attempts by the British government, this Act was issued in order to establish the king's authority to issue laws applicable to the colonies.

This document explores the president's proposed changes to the tax code. For each change, "There is a description of present law and the proposal (including effective date), an analysis of policy issues related to the proposal, and a reference to relevant prior budget proposals or recent legislative action." The main thrust of this proposal is to use the tax code to stimulate the economy by...

This publication provides an overview of social security taxes. It identifies the tax base, rates, caps, employer contributions, and loopholes. Many have suggested that lowering this pay-roll tax can jump-start the economy.

This document contains a collection of primary sources composed in response to the Revenue Acts issued by the British Parliament in the mid-1700s. The documents include petitions from various state legislatures requesting reconsideration of taxation practices.

This is a copy of the actual tax relief legislation passed by Congress under the first year of the Bush Administration.

This act sought "To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 to encourage economic growth through reduction of the tax rates for individual taxpayers, acceleration of capital cost recovery of investment in plant, equipment, and real property, and incentives for savings, and for other purposes."

Henry Hazlitt's classic primer outlines a straightforward and accessible portrayal of free-market economics. An unshackled market, Hazlitt says, is the only path to "full production".

"Two series of letters that have been described as 'the wellsprings of nearly all ensuing debate on the limits of governmental power in the United States' are collected in this volume. The writings include Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania - the 'farmer' being the gifted and courageous statesman John Dickinson and Letters from the Federal Farmer ... being the redoubtable...

"The essays collected in this volume are the main documents for the illustration and exposition of John Stuart Mill's thoughts on ethics and religion and their function in society. Since his system of ethics is avowedly Utilitarian, these documents, arranged chronologically, present the development of Mill's Utilitarianism as given in published utterance. Questions about the precise nature of...

The main purpose of this sheet is to convince people, especially members of Congress, to support an extension of the tax cuts so they last past 2011. It also serves as argument that the tax cuts have done what they were intended to do, to resolve any uneasiness surrounding the tax cuts.

"The present federal income tax dates from the act signed by President Wilson on October 3, 1913. That act was made possible by the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution adopted on February 3, 1913. Earlier federal income tax laws had been repealed or held unconstitutional. The income tax first became a significant source of revenue during World War I.

Four tax...

"A year ago tax relief was said to be a political impossibility. Six months ago it was supposed to be a political liability. Today it becomes reality. It becomes reality because of the bipartisan leadership of the Members of the United States Congress ....

It is now my honor to sign the first broad tax relief in a generation."

"Fellow Americans and fellow taxpayers:

Eleven weeks ago, in mid-January, I requested the new Congress to pass as its first priority a simple $16 billion reduction in Federal income taxes in order to stimulate economic activity and put people back to work.

I asked for a one-time refund to individual 1974 taxpayers up to a maximum of $1,000, enough to assist in the purchase of new...

"I herewith return without approval Senate bill No. 139, entitled 'An act to credit and pay to the several States and Territories and the District of Columbia all moneys collected under the direct tax levied by the act of Congress approved August 5, 1861.'"

In this statement, President Harry Truman explains his reasons for vetoing a 1948 tax cut bill. Among other things, Truman believed that reducing taxes would endanger the United States and her new position as peacekeeper following WWII. Truman's veto was overridden by Congress the following day.

This collection of Herbert Hoover's statements and Press conferences paints a picture of Hoover's policy towards taxes. He stressed the need for an adequate increase of taxes in order to maintain the good credit of the United States. At the same time, the amount of tax increases would be dependent upon the government deficit. Hoover stressed the importance of balancing the budget with the...

Mises explained economic phenomena as the outcomes of countless conscious, purposive actions, choices, and preferences of individuals, each of whom was trying as best as he or she could ... to attain ... wants and ... avoid ... consequences.

"By the case stated, only one question is submitted to the opinion of this court; — whether the law of Congress, of the 5th of June, 1794, entitled, 'An act to lay duties upon carriages, for the conveyance of persons,' is unconstitutional and void?"

This short letter cautions the implementation of extensive taxes. According to Jay, taxation "should not be so exercised as to impede or discourage the lawful and useful industry and exertions of individuals."

In this address, President Kennedy presents his plan for reducing taxes. First, he articulates that high level of taxes hurt growth by robbing the private sector of capital and incentive. His plan calls for cutting private taxes, corporate taxes, and improving the equality and simplicity of the tax code.

"The academic contributions of Murray N. Rothbard (1926–1995) are legion, but he also had a passion for public persuasion. A free society can only be sustained if the general public is aware of the vital importance of the market and the terrible consequences of statism. That’s why Rothbard hoped to convince everyone about the virtues of the free economy. For Rothbard, educating the public was...

Man, Economy and the State provides a sweeping presentation of Austrian economic theory, a reconstruction of many aspects of that theory, a rigorous criticism of alternative schools, and an inspiring look at a science of liberty that concerns nearly everything and should concern everyone.

"In a unanimous decision, the Court held that Congress had the power to incorporate the bank and that Maryland could not tax instruments of the national government employed in the execution of constitutional powers. Writing for the Court, Chief Justice Marshall noted that Congress possessed unenumerated powers not explicitly outlined in the Constitution. Marshall...

The Molasses Act of 1733 was one of a series of acts called the Navigation Acts passed by the British Parliament meant to control the trade of its American colonies in a way that would be most profitable to the empire.

"THERE is a prevailing maxim, ... among some reasoners, that every new tax creates a new ability in the subject to bear it, and that each encrease of public burdens encreases proportionably the industry of the people. This maxim is of such a nature as is most likely to be abused; and is so much the more dangerous, as its truth cannot be altogether denied: but it must be owned, when...

According to Oyez, "The Constitution gave the states the power to impose direct taxation. The federal government could impose direct taxes as well, but only if those taxes were apportioned among the states in proportion to their representation in Congress. In this case the Court examined a national income tax...

President Bush argues that tax cuts allow individuals to keep more of their money. When they keep more money, they spend it more efficiently compared to the government.

President Bush argues that high taxes hurt the economy and stimulus taxes encourage economic growth. He argues high taxes on the rich directly hurt small business, preventing them from expanding and thereby hurting everyone. Also, the President claims stimulus taxes encourages companies to invest leading to job growth.

On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation provides analysis of the allocation of money between capitalists, landowners, and agricultural workers in Britain. Through this analysis, Ricardo came to advocate free trade and oppose Britain’s restrictive 'Corn laws.'

"The activities of governments have grown remarkably rapidly in all Western countries during the twentieth century, especially during the last fifty years. This growth cannot be entirely explained by benevolent governments maximizing social welfare because subsidies to agriculture, restrictions on entry into the airline, trucking and other industries, duties on Japanese imports, and many other...

This is an address given to Congress by John F. Kennedy about his proposed tax cutting bill. He explains that this bill is crucial for the economic growth of America. He believes this tax cut will help boost manufacturing efficiency to its maximum capacity, which will spur growth. Kennedy also wants Congress to focus on balancing the budget and making sure the...

The President and Vice President discuss the recent tax cut bill. They praise this bill as a compromise and note its stimulatory effect. But instead of economics, the President focuses on the human side of these tax cuts. He discusses how it will help the middle-class pay their bills, pay for college, raise children etc. He also claims it increases job prospects.

In this address, George W. Bush covers the major tax cuts that will occur through the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act. He believes these tax cuts will greatly help out the American people, especially middle class families. Instead of the government keeping any surplus it may have from taxes, Bush believes it is the government's duty to return it...

This document is a transcript of the questions-and-answer that occurred while Ronald Reagan was signing the Economic Recovery Tax Act and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. Although all the questions/answers do not deal with the tax cuts and budget bills, Reagan is able to expand upon the address he made to Congress.

In this speech, George W. Bush is addressing the Tax Relief Coalition and asking for their help convincing Congress that making the tax cuts permanent is necessary. The tax cuts have been good and have already begun to boost the economy; however, he and his administration believe more can be done.

Having considered as maturely as time will permit the circumstances of the said colonies, esteem it our indispensable duty to make the following declarations of our humble opinion, respecting the most essential rights and liberties Of the colonists....

Enacted in 1924, this law is cited as "An Act To reduce and equalize taxation, to provide revenue, and for other purposes." According to one source, this law sought to give "tax rebates to individuals." (Note: The text of the Act begins on the second page of the...

Established in 1948, this document is cited as "An Act To reduce individual income tax payments, and for other purposes." The bill was originally rejected by President Truman on April 1st, but his veto was promptly overridden and the bill passed into law.

Secretary Geithner addresses the issue of tax cuts in this speech to the Center For American Progress. According to Geithner, tax cuts are beneficial, but they can also be hurtful. Geithner expresses his support for continuing middle-class tax cuts, but then suggests that the wealthiest two percent of the population need to sacrifice and give up their tax cuts for...

"The central and controlling question in this case is whether the tax which was levied on the income, gains, and profits of the plaintiff in error, as set forth in the record, and by pretended virtue of the acts of Congress and parts of acts therein mentioned, is a direct tax. It is fundamental with respect to the rights of the parties and the result of the case. It will be last considered."...

"The current tax system is counterproductive and biased against saving and investment. The tax system imposes large losses on the economy that reduce the economic welfare of households and businesses. The current level of taxation imposes additional costs of about 40 cents at the margin for each dollar collected in revenue. A reduction in the burden imposed by the tax system would make a...

Cited as "An Act To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986," this law extended the various tax relief laws enacted throughout the first decade of the twenty-first century.

The problem of the Government is to fix rates which will bring in a maximum amount of revenue to the Treasury and at the same time bear not too heavily on the taxpayer or on business enterprises.

"Have you never chanced to hear it said, 'There is no better investment than taxes. Only see what a number of families it maintains, and consider how it reacts upon industry: it is an inexhaustible stream, it is life itself.'

In order to combat this doctrine, I must refer to my preceding refutation. Political economy knew well enough that its arguments were not so amusing that it could...

This piece popularized the concept known as the "Laffer Curve." Arthur Laffer famously presented this theory to Wanniski and several others on a napkin during a lunch meeting. The Laffer Curve is a common visual used to explain the influence tax rates have on an economy.

Dick Armey presents his case for the flat tax in front of the President's Commission on Tax Reform. He argues that taxes should be lowered, incomes should not be taxed multiple times, and the tax code should not be used to distort the market. He argues that a decrease in marginal tax rates -- across the board -- increases incentives for additional work and investment. Furthermore, he argues...

This document contains the constitutional amendments made following the Bill of Rights additions. Amendment 16 particularly relates to the subject of taxation as it sought to "lay and collect taxes on incomes."

This particular Federalist Paper is entitled, "The Utility of the Union In Respect to Revenue." Hamilton describes how productive commerce is needed in order to provide necessary revenue for the nation, an element without which "[a] nation cannot long exist."

I have called this book the General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, placing the emphasis on the prefix general.

Montesquieu was a significant advocate of separation of powers between executive, legislative, and judicial branches, and his discussion of law contributed significantly to the concept of rule of law.

Ordering a tax stamp on many printed materials in the colonies in order to help fund the Seven Years' War, this act was the first that resulted in significant colonial objection. Although it was repealed just a year later, it alerted the colonists to England's taxation objectives.

"Also known as the American Revenue Act of 1764, the Sugar Act enforced the collection of taxes on various goods including sugar to help raise revenue to pay off the British national debt which grew substantially as a result of the French and Indian War."

This act precipitated further rebellious action in the colonies, which already held strong grievances toward Britain. It eliminated the transfer of the tea through Britain and instead directly taxed the colonies (which it originally attempted to hide from the colonies) to boost the struggling East India Company. Furthermore, it strengthened the monopoly of the East India Company at the expense...

"AN ACT for granting certain duties in the British colonies and plantations in America; for allowing a drawback of the duties of customs upon the exportation from this kingdom, of coffee and cocoa nuts of the produce of the said colonies or plantations; for discontinuing the drawbacks payable on china earthen ware exported to America; and for more effectually preventing the clandestine running...

The Constitution of the United States established the federal governmental system currently in place with three branches of government. The premise of executive privilege developed from the separation of powers clause.

"The Sugar Act passed in 1764 was the first attempt to tax the colonies. It would have passed unnoticed had it not been for Samuel Adams who saw it as an infringement on their rights and liberties. Adams gained the support of the Massachusetts Assembly by stating valid arguments against Britain’s tax policies on the colony and the need for legal representation to avoid becoming tributary...

"The great end of men's entering into society being the enjoyment of their properties in peace and safety, and the great instrument and means of that being the laws established in that society; the first and fundamental positive law of all commonwealths is the establishing of the legislative power; as the first and fundamental natural law, which is to govern even the legislative itself, is the...

This speech given by Dick Cheney in front of the Commonwealth Club discusses how the tax cuts have boosted economic growth in America. He points out what makes our economic system unique and why it works. When government gets involved in the economic process it interferes with how our system works, which is why, according to him, the Bush Administration chose to...

President Obama address the issue of tax cuts and tax incentives. He claims jobs have increased due to the extension of tax cuts. He also argues that recent tax incentives have stimulated economic activity -- he uses the example of Thompson Creek Window Company.