A Quick Case for Cutting the Corporate Tax Rate

Alan Reynolds over at CATO published a nice piece at National Review Online (NRO). He adeptly points out the fallacy of Obama’s claim that raising taxes on the top 2% will raise a princely sum of revenue to put toward our skyrocketing deficit.

The Treasury Department calculated that

raising the top two personal-income-tax rates — to 36 from 33 percent and to 39.6 from 35 percent on incomes above $250,000 and $377,000, respectively — would raise just $23.1 billion in 2013, barely enough to finance federal spending for two days.

How is this supposed to be a solution? It’s not, but it’s the stuff of which good rhetoric and sound bytes are made. Making the rich “pay their fair share” puts the onus on the wealthy — someone other than the average taxpayer — as a red herring to the hide the fact that our deficit problem is so large, a tax increase isn’t going to make a dent. But the Democrats can’t admit that their tax-and-spend mentality is falling apart.

Yet the real interesting part of the article starts halfway in. Reynolds goes on to make the case for cutting the corporate tax rate, an important point raised in the Simpson-Bowles package that has been all but forgotten. We are reminded that both Obama and Romney have suggested lowering the rates in the past, which are among the highest in first-world countries at 35%. Cutting the rates would be stimulative, as more money becomes readily available to businesses which have been struggling in this economy. It would also serve to entice businesses to relocate here, instead of our businesses continuously seeking lower tax rates outside the US (as they are now). We desperately need the economy to grow — to grow our way out of this slump, instead of trying to tax our way out of it (and putting ourselves back into a recession). Reynolds notes,

the positive impact on business investment, and on multinational decisions to locate new businesses in the U.S. rather than abroad, would be swift and powerful. There is nothing to lose from cutting the corporate tax rate, not even revenue, and the economic gains are likely to be quite astonishing.

Let’s hope for some real tax relief out of the fiscal cliff negotiations. Besides allowing the current tax rates to stay in place — perhaps permanently — so that we can stop being in a state of economic uncertainty, cutting corporate taxes should be a key item on the table.

Crossposted at alanjoelny.com