Can someone do a wellness check on America’s supply-side tax-cutters in the wake of Liz Truss’s decline and fall? From the American Enterprise Institute to the Wall Street Journal editorial page, lowering marginal tax rates has long been the prescription for pleasing “the market” and setting Western societies on the path to growth and prosperity. Here was a UK premier proudly advancing their preferred agenda—and “the market” revolted, triggering the collapse of her government.
This presents an existential question for these institutions: Was the purportedly pro-growth tax plan wrong, or was the market?
For most people, there is no quandary here. Tax cuts can be lousy, market signals don’t always prove value. But either thought negates a bedrock tenet of market fundamentalism: As former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has professed, “as we are dealing with changes in our economy, tax cuts are always a good idea.” According to historian (and former Journal editorialist) Amity Shlaes, meanwhile, “markets do not fail us. We fail markets.” So what happens when a tax cut fails the market?
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