Tax cut history

Ramesh Ponnuru in his Sept. 17 column identified four basic changes that make our time different from 1981 when the Reagan tax cut was enacted. In summary: today we have a larger federal debt, a lower top individual income tax rate, fewer households actually paying income tax and a corporate tax rate that, at least on paper, is higher than those of other major economies.

But he did not mention two differences that seem just as basic and relevant. In 1981 we were in a deep recession. A tax cut to help the recovery made sense and was broadly supported (Democrats controlled both houses for part of 1981 and the House throughout the year and for the next few years). It was unlikely to fuel irresponsible speculation and lending as the G.W. Bush tax cuts of the early 2000s appear to have.

The other difference was that the lending rate was much higher then than now, hitting 20 percent briefly in both 1980 and 1981. Even the Federal Reserve prime rate was never below 10 percent in 1981. There was no chance of a tax cut triggering inflation under those circumstances.

Nicholas Follansbee


Great outdoor coverage

I am not a hunter, nor do I fish. Bit I stay informed reading Mark Freeman’s outdoor coverage. Go figure!

I’m really interested where the elk are and how they made it through our forest fires. If I were a hunter I’d appreciate learning which areas are now closed to hunters because of the fires and where they might luck out. That was in Friday’s “Up in Smoke” — all of it.

And, he’s a good writer. And, and, you can’t beat a great accompanying cartoon by Paul Bunch.

K. Sloan


Market-based care doesn't work

Memo to Jay Ambrose: The reason that the Republicans have had so much trouble coming up with an improved health care law is that we already have the Republican plan. It started as a Heritage Foundation position paper, was put into practice in Massachusetts as RomneyCare, and was the basis for ObamaCare, which is now imploding. The Republicans were for it before they were against it.

We've given market-based health care the best shot it ever had, and it failed spectacularly. Thanks to the greed and rent-seeking of the insurance companies, the hospital monopolies and Big Pharma, prices for everything medical are skyrocketing while the stock prices in these industries outpace the S&P by three times.

It's time (as Noah Smith points out in a companion article) to get the "market" out of providing basic care. It's been given a perfect test, and it blew up in our faces. Pick any plan from any other developed country (none of which rely on the "market" as much as the U.S. does) and we can cover everyone for less and get better outcomes.

Steve Soar