The successful Clinton economy was based on tax cuts. No, really…
To find a pure, easily illustrated example of tax decreases boosting the economyand Treasury receipts, one need only look at the current rates on capital gains and dividends. When Congress passed the 15-percent tax rate on capital gains in 2003, and again following the 2006 extension, Democrats protested that large deficits would result.
The new leadership in Washington and those who support them would allow this tax cut to expire to “generate revenue” for the federal government. Based on data from Congress’s own budgetary agency, they should consider whether expiration will have the effect they desire.
For anyone willing to read it, the January 2007 Congressional Budget Office annual report settles any debate. Citing the original CBO forecasts of capital gains tax revenue of $42 billion in 2003, $46 billion in 2004, $52 billion in 2005, and $57 billion in 2006, Democrats who opposed the rate reduction in 2003 claimed that the capital gains tax cut would “cost” the federal treasury $5.4 billion in fiscal years 2003-2006.
Those forecasts were embarrassingly wrong. The 2007 CBO report revealed that capital gains and dividends tax collections were actually $51 billion in 2003, $72 billion in 2004, $97 billion in 2005, and $110 billion in 2006, the last two years nearly doubling initial forecasts.
In other words, forecasts in earlier CBO reports were low by a total of $133 billion for the four-year period. This tax rate reduction stimulated enough additional economic activity to more than offset forecasted losses.
Reductions in tax rates for capital gains were arguably the most successful fiscal initiatives of the past thirty years.