Are we all “supply-siders” now?

I saw this Bruce Barltett editorial in the NY Times over the weekend. Bartlett makes the intriguing argument that politicians no longer need to claim to believe in “supply-side” economics, because we are all “supply siders now”. In other words, everyone accepts the fact that lower taxes result in faster economic growth, and that cutting tax rates by 10% does not result in a loss of tax revenue of 10%, because of that faster growth. Thus Bartlett claims, “there is no longer any meaningful difference between supply-side economics and mainstream economics.”

While this may be true for professional economists, I find it to be far from the truth in political debate. Is Nancy Pelosi a supply-sider? Is Ed Rendell? Given his proposals to increase taxes and debt to spend on “economic development” subsidies come directly from the Keynesian playbook, the answer is clearly no.

In fact, the frequent subject of debate at the Commonwealth Foundation is not whether supply-side ideas are universally accepted, but whether we are winning the war of ideas at all. Instead of Bartlett’s argument that the debate over supply-side economics is “a fight long won,” I feel we must continue to champion these ideas, as there are plenty of politicians yet to be persuaded.