Treasury Secretary and ex-Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen opened her Wednesday Wall Street Journal op-ed with this:
When Congress enacted the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, the result was a dramatic reduction in corporate tax revenue. Over the past three years, corporate tax collections have fallen to their lowest level since World War II: 1% of gross domestic product.
Amazingly—shockingly—Yellen wrote that as if it were a Bad Thing.
Then she partially rationalized her disparagement with this:
Proponents of the TCJA said the US would get something in return for these tax cuts. Lower rates, the argument went, would lure production and investment to our shores, but that hasn’t happened—and for an obvious reason: other countries see what we’re doing and respond. When they see us lower our rates, they lower theirs to undercut us. In the end, no nation ends up more competitive. The result is a global race to the bottom….
Some of this is plain wrong. We did get trillions of dollars of corporate cash repatriated. We did get production and investment returned. And that spurred the outcome that Yellen so breathtakingly mistakes as a further Bad Thing. Other nations were spurred to compete on tax rates in order to retain their own businesses and to attract foreign investment.
Which drives the race to Yellen’s so-feared bottom.
But what is that bottom? Our Constitution specifies that the only things our Federal government is allowed, legitimately, to raise revenues for are three: to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States. Those, with the general Welfare further specified by the remaining clauses of that Article I, Section 8, also, are the only things on which our Federal government may spend our taxpayer money. The other nations, particularly those competing with us on tax rates, have their own taxing (and spending) floors.
Racing to those bottoms may be bad for Government bureaucrats like Yellen, but they’re unalloyed Goods for the citizens of all of our nations, as we get to keep more of our money and make our own spending, saving, investing, and other allocating decisions with our money—and our decisions will be far better and far more efficiently done than any of our Governments can ever hope to do.
And at that natural bottom, nations can stop trying to compete on tax policy and focus on Adam Smith’s competition—providing better quality goods and services. Which is even better for us citizens, if not for the power of Government personages.
Only a Leftist or an entrenched bureaucrat can misunderstand that.