Chart of the Day: How Have Republican Tax Cuts Fared Since 1980?

Jonathan Chait complains today that Republicans always justify their claim that tax cuts boost the economy by simply taking credit for the normal economic expansions that happen afterward:

They deemed the Reagan tax cuts to be a growth miracle by starting at the trough of a recession, in 1982, and measuring through the peak of the expansion, in 1990. The 1980s expansion was actually an unremarkable business cycle recovery, but by measuring from the trough to the peak, conservative propaganda transformed it into a miracle.

OK, let’s do just the opposite. Let’s take a look at economic growth after each of the six major tax bills since 1980, but for each one we’ll arbitrarily use the decade following. Everyone gets exactly ten years and that’s that. This is blogging without a net: I have no idea how this is going to turn out, but I promise to post the results regardless of what they look like.

….And here they are:

There you have it. None of this matters, of course, since Republicans pass tax cuts mostly to please their donor class, not due to any macroeconomic evidence that they do much for the economy. Still, at least we got a colorful chart out of the deal.


We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

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


Support our journalism

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


Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.