Remember how much liberals admired Bob Dole back in ’96, when he said we should “build a bridge back to the 1950s?”

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Alan Reynolds says higher tax rates don’t equal higher tax revenues:

When the highest tax rate ranged from 91% to 92% (1951-63), even the lowest rate was quite high–20% or 22%. As the nearby chart shows, however, those super-high tax rates at all income levels brought in revenue of only 7.7% of GDP, according to U.S. budget historical data.

President John F. Kennedy’s across-the-board tax cuts reduced the lowest and highest tax rates to 14% and 70% respectively after 1964, yet revenues (after excluding the 5%-10% surtaxes of 1969-70) rose to 8% of GDP. President Reagan’s across-the-board tax cuts further reduced the lowest and highest tax rates to 11% and 50%, yet revenues rose again to 8.3% of GDP. The 1986 tax reform slashed the top tax rate to 28%, yet revenues dipped trivially to 8.1% of GDP.

So, wait now, what? Tax rates were how high during the Eisenhower administration?

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Holy crap. And then Kennedy cut them — cut them — to seventy? Just think about that for a minute: having to cut tax rates down to seventy percent.

Holy crap.

Hey, remember how much liberals and Democrats just loved Bob Dole back in ’96, when he wanted to “build a bridge back to the 1950s?”

No? Huh. Weird. Because you’d think they’d be all over that. Because, wow, what a paradise America must have been in the 1950s!

Ninety-one percent? Incredible! Amazing! So unbelievably progressive! What a wonderful time it must have been to be poor, disadvantaged, in need. If we even had any poor or disadvantaged, that is. If anyone actually was, in fact, in need.

How could anyone have been, with a top marginal income tax rate of 91%?

I kid, of course. There were still poor; there were still disadvantaged. There was still need, even with a 91% top marginal tax rate. How that’s possible is anyone’s guess, since raising taxes on the rich is The Most Important Thing We Can Do for the poor and the needy.

Well that’s what I heard.

For the last six months, anyone visiting Wisconsin’s State Capitol has heard crowds of protesters and/or Democrat legislators demanding that we “tax the rich.” Tax the corporations. Give to the needy, not to the greedy!

Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature just finished balancing the state’s two-year budget, see, and they did so by reducing spending. Reducing borrowing. No tax increases in sight.

And lo, the Progressives were apoplectic with rage.

Why hurt the poor by spending less, after all, when we could simply raise taxes on the rich? Take us back to the 1950s, when the rich paid ninety-one percent!

I wonder: when top marginal rates were 91%, did federal agencies have enough money? Or, even then, did they consistently ask for more? Were all the self-appointed spokesmen for the poor and needy satisfied that the federal government really was bringing in all the revenue it could?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I can guess, and my guess is: no.

Hat tip to the Tax Prof. Posted by Lance Burri, a.k.a. The TrogloPundit

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