Tax hikes vs. tax cuts

Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics CES survey, I compared the number of jobs created in the years following the balanced budget bill signed by President Clinton in August 1993 and after the second round of Bush tax cuts, which went into effect in May 2003. (Supply-siders think that was the real deal, not the earlier 2001 cuts.)

Nearly 20 million private sector jobs were created from the August 1993 tax increase until the end of the Clinton administration in December 2000. The number following the Bush tax cuts, in a shorter time period (May 1993 to December 1997, when the Great Recession began), was above seven million.

But when I actually counted the jobs created in various industries and eliminated those that clearly had nothing to do with lower marginal tax rates, I was left with a much smaller number: two million at most, a dreadful performance by any measurement.

This isn’t an academic exercise. A 20% cut in marginal tax rates, including reducing the top tax rate to 28% from 35%, is a key plank of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s economic growth plan (along with cuts in business taxes and reduced regulation, which I won’t cover in this column).

One of former Gov. Romney’s top economic advisers, Glenn Hubbard, the dean of the Columbia Business School, wasn’t available for an interview, nor could the Romney campaign provide another adviser by deadline. Top Bush economist Lawrence Lindsey also wasn’t available.

Yet Hubbard, along with former Sen. Phil Gramm (Mr. Banking Deregulation of the late 1990s), penned an op-ed Thursday in the Wall Street Journal comparing the current recession with “the superior job creation and income growth” of — wait for it — the 1980s.

Again, no mention of the Clinton 1990s or the Bush tax cuts, of which Hubbard was a prime architect as chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Keep on reading.