I'm curious: Is there a lie a conservative guest could tell on CNN that would disqualify her from subsequently being hired by CNN? I ask because CNN recently hired Dana Loesch as a contributor, after Loesch repeatedly lied to CNN viewers as a guest. And I'm not talking about little white lies, I'm talking about what may be the single greatest lie in the past three decades of American history: The up-is-down claim that broad-based income tax cuts increase government revenue.
Now, before we get to Loesch, let's spend some time on just how completely, incredibly false that claim is. It's so false, we can convincingly debunk it with one arm tied behind our backs -- that is, by relying solely on the testimony of pro-tax-cut conservatives.
This Center on Budget and Policy Priorities paper notes that Edward Lazear, chairman of President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisors told the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, “I certainly would not claim that tax cuts pay for themselves.” CBPP further noted that “N. Gregory Mankiw, former chairman of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisors and a Harvard economics professor, wrote in his well-known 1998 textbook that there is 'no credible evidence' that 'tax revenues … rise in the face of lower tax rates.' He went on to compare an economist who says that tax cuts can pay for themselves to a 'snake oil salesman trying to sell a miracle cure.'” (Mankiw also once wrote that Reagan advisers who claimed that tax cuts would raise revenue were “charlatans and cranks.” In 2007, he stood by that assessment, writing “I did not find such a claim credible, based on the available evidence. I never have, and I still don't.” )
CBPP also noted that President Bush's Council of Economic Advisors concluded that, “although the economy grows in response to tax reductions … it is unlikely to grow so much that lost revenue is completely recovered by the higher level of economic activity.” And that the Economist magazine wrote of the claim that President Bush's tax cuts would pay for themselves, “Even by the standards of political boosterism, this is extraordinary. No serious economist believes Mr. Bush's tax cuts will pay for themselves.”
Here's Time magazine on claims that tax cuts pay for themselves: “If there's one thing that economists agree on, it's that these claims are false. We're not talking just ivory-tower lefties. Virtually every economics Ph.D. who has worked in a prominent role in the Bush Administration acknowledges that the tax cuts enacted during the past six years have not paid for themselves--and were never intended to.”
Not satisfied? Alan Viard, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and formerly a senior economist in President Bush's CEA, told the Washington Post in 2006: “Federal revenue is lower today than it would have been without the tax cuts. There's really no dispute among economists about that.” The same Post article noted that “Robert Carroll, deputy assistant Treasury secretary for tax analysis, said neither the president nor anyone else in the administration is claiming that tax cuts alone produced the unexpected surge in revenue. 'As a matter of principle, we do not think tax cuts pay for themselves,' Carroll said.”
This FactCheck.org piece notes that the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee On Taxation both concluded that the Bush tax cuts reduced revenue, and that Rob Portman, director of Bush's Office of Management and Budget, acknowledged as much. And more: Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson: “As a general rule, I don't believe that tax cuts pay for themselves.” Reagan CEA Chairman Martin Feldstein: “It is not that you get more revenue by lowering tax rates, it is that you don't lose as much.” Andrew Samwick, former chief economist for the CEA during the Bush administration: “No thoughtful person believes” tax cuts increase revenue, “Not a single one.”
Finally, Brian Riedl, the Heritage Foundation's lead budget analyst, has acknowledged that the 2001/2003 Bush tax cuts cost $1.7 trillion of the projected surplus -- and Riedl was defending those tax cuts.
In short: Even staunchly conservative advocates for tax cuts acknowledge that they don't increase revenue -- and call people who claim otherwise “charlatans and cranks” and snake oil salesmen peddling a “miracle cure.”
One such charlatan is new CNN hire Dana Loesch. Back when she was just a regular guest on CNN, she routinely claimed that tax cuts increase revenue -- and even that it is “illogical” to say that tax cuts could conceivably reduce revenue. Now, even if you somehow believe -- and, remember, no serious person does -- that until you get to zero percent taxes, every tax cut either maintains or increases revenue, you still have to acknowledge that cutting taxes to zero would reduce revenue. But Dana Loesch doesn't: She claims it's “illogical” to say that tax cuts ever reduce revenue. Here's what she has said on CNN:
“Now so far as how it adds to the deficits, tax cuts themselves aren't expensive because statistically -- and you can look all the way back to Woodrow Wilson and in either 1912-1916 -- tax cuts actually add to government revenue.” [Parker/Spitzer, 12/20/10]
“Well, going off the presupposition that tax cuts actually cost instead of add revenue to the government, I'll play devil's advocate for just a moment, and I'll let you frame it that way when we all know that it's illogical. But I'm going to go with it for a second.” [Parker/Spitzer, 12/20/10]
“Tax cuts pay for themselves. This is the money that's -- it's our cash dollars. This is our money. Tax cuts pay for themselves, because when people have their discretionary income, when they have that money, they put it back into the economy. It takes care of itself.” [Parker/Spitzer, 10/25/10]
“If you look back from -- you can go back so far as 1916 with Woodrow Wilson, and look at what happens when you raise taxes on folks. Look at the discretionary income be taken away, out of people's hands, and then look what happens to the revenue that comes into the government. You get more net revenue, the government does, by letting people have their own money and decide how to spend it. That's ultimately what this argument's about.” [Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees, 12/1/10]
And then CNN hired her.
There's two possibilities here: Either Dana Loesch doesn't have the foggiest clue what she's talking about, and lacks any understanding of what “logic” is or how to apply it, or she's willing to tell massive lies in aid of her political agenda. There really is no other option. And CNN doesn't consider either of those traits disqualifying.
So, if CNN is willing to hire someone who is wiling to say that nonsense on-air, what would disqualify someone from being a CNN contributor? What if Loesch took to arguing that the moon is made of green cheese? Would CNN think “Hey, this is someone we should hire” ? How about if she said the sun orbits around Earth, or that the Earth is flat? I'm pretty sure if Loesch had said any of those things on CNN, she'd never have been invited back. So what's different about her tax cut claims that even the most staunchly pro-tax cut conservative economists around denounce as “snake oil” ?
Whatever the reason, by hiring Loesch as a contributor, CNN purchased her lies. They belong to CNN now. The next time she claims on-air that tax cuts increase revenues, that won't just be Dana Loesch lying to you. It'll be CNN lying to you.
Bonus Loesch Quote: “You don't understand economics. You do not understand economics.” [Larry King Live, 7/22/10]