The Republican Tax Cut Had No Effect on Growth

A couple of years ago Robert Barro predicted that the Republican tax bill would increase GDP by 1.1 percent in 2018 and 2019. A reader asks:

I’m curious what the official numbers ended up being and you seemed like a guy who could find out and might care to.

Nothing simpler! Growth clocked in at 2.9 percent and 2.3 percent in those two years. So Barro is right only if he initially projected growth of 1.8 percent and 1.2 percent without the tax cut.

That seems unlikely. My best guess, based on both GDP figures and a few other things is that the Republican tax cut, remarkably enough, had virtually no effect on growth. I’m not sure how they managed that since lower taxes should stimulate growth, but apparently Republicans can even screw up a tax cut these days.

Then again, the best way to make a tax cut effective is to give less of it to the rich and more of it to the middle class. If the real goal here was merely to make the rich a little richer, then it worked great and Republicans didn’t screw up anything.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate