George Will’s economic recovery plan: Drop corporate, estate taxes to zero

Another day of trading at the exchange and another calamitous drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average has many searching for a way to stem the tide of the ailing economy and get it moving in the right direction.

Washington Post columnist George Will offered some ideas on Tuesday night’s “The Charlie Rose Show.” He would not just lower taxes, but eliminate some altogether.

First, Will explained that he would mimic former President Ronald Reagan’s actions after he inherited a dreadful economy from Jimmy Carter.

“So the first thing you want to do is in my judgment is what Reagan did,” Will said. “Reagan came in — President Obama acts as though he’s the first president who ever inherited a country from his predecessor that wasn’t perfect.

“Think of what Reagan — remember the misery index under Carter? [It] added the inflation and the unemployment and — and you were over 20 percent. Reagan came in and said, ‘Well, we’re going to lighten the load of government on the private sector. We’re going to cut taxes. We’re going to cut regulations.’ This president has not done that, and I think it’s time to try that.”

And Will named specific taxes he would target immediately.

“Even stagnant Japan has lowered its corporate tax rate,” Will said. “Ours should be radically lower … [I] would lower it to zero because I don’t believe corporations pay taxes: They collect taxes. They have to pass taxation on as a cost of doing business.

“I would eliminate the death tax. I don’t know why death is a taxable event in this country. No more estate taxes. Eliminate — go back to the classic — no taxation without respiration, that’s right. Go back to the classic Bill Bradley/Ronald Reagan tax reform of 1986. Lower the rates by eliminating loopholes and exceptions.”

Host Charlie Rose protested, saying that was in fact what Obama had recommended. But Will countered that it took Obama too long to suggest action.

“He’s had a conversion of convenience on a lot of issues as the election approaches and the sky has darkened,” Will insisted.

Will also had high praise for tea party.

“I think the tea party unquestionably changed the landscape,” he said. “None of this would have happened, the Simpson-Bowles — none of this would have happened without the change in the conversation in this Capitol by 87 freshmen elected in 2010. But the president likes to say elections have consequences. And that one did. Absent that, absent those 87 members who had livened the House of Representatives, they would not have dug in and made the debt ceiling increase an action-forcing mechanism.”

Rose questioned some conservatives’ willingness to “hold the country hostage” over the national debt, but Will said their motivations were legitimate.

“I would say they’re prepared to be highly principled and intelligently obdurate in using such leverage as they have. And this is limited. We have three branches of government. The Republicans control one-half of the one branch of the government, and got rather a lot, I think, in trying to turn this super tanker of the state a little bit.”