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.”

  • Anonymous

    1% of the people in the USA own 34% of the net wealth.  20% of the people in the USA own 85% of the net wealth.  Much of this wealth was accrued in ways that did not cause them to have to pay any tax on the accrual that wealth.  If you take stock in a company in lieu of cash, you don’t pay tax on it.  If you buy property and it increases in value, you don’t pay taxes on that increase in wealth.  “Death taxes” – more properly inheritance taxes – are taxes on wealth accretion that was mostly untaxed.

  • Daria

    If we look at government spending when I was a child in the 1950s and, adjusted for inflation, look at spending today, one would find there is a huge increase in the last few years. The increase in spending is our “Freedom Gap.” When excessive taxes go to the government it stifles discretionary spending by the taxpayer.  We should have more control over our own money. Government should do only what the Founding Fathers envisioned for our nation.  It worked for a long time until we began traveling the road to socialism and following Maynard Keynes. The good news is that our nation remains intact, our people are strong, and we can change directions and return to the road that leads to freedom and prosperity. The climb up that hill will be a little steeper and may take a little longer than when Reagan was in office. But we are a people with ingenuity and courage.  I am placing my bet on the American people.  If each of us contributes what we can in our own way, we will be healthy again.  I’m running for US Congress in CT-02 in 2012. People come to me all the time and simply ask that I continue to stand up strong for what I believe in.  We all can do this whether running for office or working in our local communities.  I urge all Americans to get involved.

  • csm

    It’ s nice to see Mr. Will come around.  I don’t think he approved of the Tea Party when it first came on the scene. 

  • Cleetus

    “Even stagnant Japan has lowered its corporate tax rate,” Will said.

    And guess what?!?!  It’s still STAGNANT JAPAN!!!  Nice way to disprove your own theory, George.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_D7KNNTFSARNKTKMRZRFLLRHYDI Paledon76108

    Hey! How about we junk the current tax system all together and go with a flat tax and EVERYONE pays. That is the fairest way for everyone. We all pay a percentage of our income and no deductions. That way the rich pay the same as the middle class and its about time that 48% who don’t pay anything to to have some skin in the game as well. From Bill Gates to the welfare mom we ALL should have to pay taxes.

    • Ocarter

      That would be unfair to democrats because they would actually have to pay taxes then.

    • Humorless

      Tax the poor, dammit!!!!   Just like the good ol’ days in the Dark Ages.

      • wadesmith

        48% of the national DOES NOT pay income tax. Are they ALL poor? Everybody should pay income taxes to support the country. President Clinton and his democratic Congress passed the income taxes on MOST social security checks.

    • Davided

      I agree with junking the current tax system.  But it should be replaced with a consumption (sales) tax on everything except food at grocery stores.  Tax consumption, not labor.

  • cgvet

    i long for the days when people who called themselves joe steel(joseph stalin) and worshipped mass murdering communists had to run for their lives or go to prison.

    • Humorless

      Since the Right now defines anybody one toe to the Left of Jim DeMint as a “Commie”…guess you’re about ready to lock up half the country or more, huh?

  • Humorless

    If we drop all taxes to zero….we’ll not only have 100% employment, but the Treasury will take in trillions and have trillions in surpluses.    Works every time it’s tried.

    • ArnoldLayne

      Are you commenting on this article, or just amusing yourself?

      • Humorless

        No, it’s true….Reagan proved it.   Cut taxes and deficits disappear.  Cut them to zero and we’ll take in trillions in revenues.   Oh and with no estate tax, Paris Hilton will finally be able to open that 1000 job micro-chip factory in Peoria she’s been planning, but has been held back from doing due to confiscatory rates.  

    • wadesmith

      Idiot, drop taxes to 10% flat tax everybody pays and therefore as an interest in the health of the country.