Editorial of The New York Sun | October 3, 2012
Governor Romney’s victory this evening in the first of the presidential debates — that seems to be the consensus of even the pro-Obama commentators — reminds us of an encounter with Prime Minister Thatcher. This was in the mid- late-1980s, when an editorial writer of the Wall Street Journal, Peter Keresztes, encountered the prime minister at a cocktail reception at London. Mr. Keresztes approached the Iron Lady and introduced himself. As soon as the premier heard the words “Wall Street Journal editorial page,” she leaned into the conversation, shook her finger at him and said, “Stop using the words ‘supply-side.’ Stop using them. People don’t like it. They don’t like it.” There was something about the way the Reaganites talked about the importance of reducing top-marginal tax rates that — even though she agreed with the policy — rubbed her the wrong way.
Watching the debate this evening we couldn’t help but sense that Governor Romney was channeling this sentiment. He just didn’t want to go anywhere near the idea of cutting tax rates on the top margin to generate incentives for work and growth and, en passant, more revenues. We watched the debate with a veteran of the Reagan years, and when Mr. Romney started boasting about how he didn’t want a trillion-dollar tax cut and didn’t want to cut taxes for rich people, our colleague stalked out of the room. And yet, there were indications in the debate that Romney understands the principle of dynamism, meaning that tax cuts generate incentives to work, which generates income, which generate growth, which generates more tax revnues. Mr. Romney just didn’t want to talk about it in the classical supply side terms.
Here is the governor. “I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans. . . . I will not under any circumstances raise taxes on middle-income families. I will lower taxes on middle-income families. . . . But let’s get at the bottom line. That is, I want to bring down rates. I want to bring the rates down, at the same time lower deductions and exemptions and credits and so forth, so we keep getting the revenue we need. And you’d think, well, then why lower the rates? And the reason is because small business pays that individual rate; 54% of America’s workers work in businesses that are taxed not at the corporate tax rate, but at the individual tax rate. And if we lower that rate, they will be able to hire more people. For me, this is about jobs. This is about getting jobs for the American people.”