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May 05, 2010


Epistemic aperture?

Wiliamson says, "There is no evidence that the tax cuts on net produced more revenue than the Treasury would have realized without them."

I would say there is some evidence, namely the fact that tax revenue did subsequently increase. Maybe it's not conclusive evidence. Of course, in economics, conclusive evidence of precise causality is pretty much impossible to obtain.

By comparison, Obama's stimulus bill was not followed by a drop in unemployment rate. Instead it was followed by an increase even greater than the one Obama had predicted would happen in the absence of his bill.

Thereforem I think the evidence that Reagan's bill increased tax revenue is a lot stronger than the evidence that Obama's bill increased American jobs.

Its too bad that the increase in the deficit in the 1980's was twice as large as the increase in the 1970's (adjusting for inflation), even in spite of "modest spending increases".

BTW, I find it interesting that David applies the "its true unless you can prove its unequivocally false" logic to the argument that tax cuts increase( or increased) revenue. But, with respect to anthropomorphic climate change, he argues that "its false unless you can prove that its unequivocally true".

That seems to be selective reasoning.

Or, could it be, a question of personal epistemic aperture?


"Williamson does make one significant mistake. In this statement, he wrongly suggests federal spending almost doubled under Reagan using figures that are not adjusted for inflation:..."

Um, no. This is not a "significant mistake". It is a choice between methods of presentation. There are good reasons to adjust for inflation, and good reasons to report figures in the nominal terms which the government uses in its official budget presentations. The "significant mistake" would be to confuse one with the other, to insist on one in an analysis in which the other appropriate, and such like. Best is to present both and be clear about which is which. The recognition that reporting a deficit/GDP ratio is useful ought also to recognize that nominal figures are used for both, and for very good reason.


If you want to convince anyone other than yourself, you are going to have to be less obviously biased in your choice of arguments. No one with a fair mind and an understanding of economics would have presented the argument you presented, nor would they be moved by it.

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