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Posts Tagged ‘David Cameron’

A new study from the Adam Smith Institute in the United Kingdom provides overwhelming evidence that class-warfare tax policy is grossly misguided and self-destructive. The authors examine the likely impact of the 10-percentage point increase in the top income tax rate, which was imposed as an election-year stunt by former  Gordon Brown and then kept in place by his feckless successor, David Cameron.

They find that boosting the top tax rate to 50 percent will slow economic performance. And because of both macroeconomic and microeconomic responses, tax revenues over the next 10 years are likely to drop by the equivalent of more than $550 billion. Here’s a key paragraph from the executive summary of the new study.

The country is suffering from a 50%-­plus marginal tax rate which even its architect admits was imposed without economic purpose. Now our analysis shows that the policy is set for failure: at best leading to flat growth for a decade and £350bn of lost revenue. The Chancellor should seize the occasion of the 2011 budget to reverse this disaster promptly, for the benefit of public revenues, economic growth, the government’s standing with domestic wealth-creators, and the UK’s reputation with world business.

The authors urge Prime Minister Cameron to reverse this disastrous policy, but the odds of that happening are very slight. I hope I’m wrong, but I have repeatedly noted on this blog that Cameron almost always makes the wrong choice when deciding between liberty and statism.

President Obama wants to impose similar policies in the United States and there is every reason to expect similarly poor results. I’ve already posted evidence from IRS data showing that the rich paid much more tax following the Reagan tax cuts, so it shouldn’t shock anybody when the reverse happens if Obama is successful in moving America back toward a 1970s-style tax system.

To emphasize these critical points, let’s close with two videos. This first video explains the Laffer Curve and why politicians are foolish if they assume that there is a fixed linear relationship between tax rates and tax revenue.

This second video debunks the notion of class-warfare tax policy.

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People periodically ask me why I’m so down on David Cameron, the Prime Minster of the United Kingdom. I’ve already pointed out that his pre-election agenda was big government. And I’ve pointed out that his post-election record is more spending.

(and you can read more of my whining and complaining here, here, here, here, and here)

But now I’m really disgusted, because the United Kingdom’s version of  George W. Bush is now reversing one of the few pro-market aspects of British policy.

The Wall Street Journal Europe is appropriately disappointed.

On Tuesday Iain Duncan Smith announced a sweeping reform of the U.K.’s state-pension system. In the name of simplification, the Work and Pensions Secretary plans to raise the basic pension, eliminate the current multitiered system—and pay for it all by rolling back the personal retirement accounts that were first introduced by the Thatcher Government in 1987. Pension systems across the developed world are being stretched to the breaking point as populations gray and governments face ballooning public debts. Britain today is in the privileged position of possessing on top of its public savings system an extensive private one, relatively insulated from the government’s increasingly uncertain ability to deliver on its pension liabilities. Pity, then, that Mr. Duncan Smith’s reforms serve in the long run mostly to entrench the unsustainable elements of the British system and trash the desirable ones.

Addendum: Jose Pinera reminds me that George W. Bush actually proposed personal retirement accounts in 2005, one of the few positive actions of his eight-year reign. So Cameron’s actions may put him even further to the left than Bush on economic policy, a rather challenging achievement.

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Here’s a new video from the Taxpayers Alliance in the United Kingdom exposing how left-wing environmental groups get funded by government handouts.

David Cameron supposedly is being tough on spending, but I’ve already revealed that overall spending is climbing at about twice the rate of inflation under his new budget. And I’m not holding my breath that he’ll reduce the taxpayer handouts shown in this video.

But we Americans can’t be smug because the federal budget also is riddled with all sorts of giveaways and subsidies to left-wing groups. Labor unions, AARP, and Planned Parenthood are just a few of the groups that have their snouts in the public trough. And I would be shocked to learn that environmental groups haven’t figured out how to scam taxpayers as well.

Back in the 1990s, GOPers had a campaign to “defund the left.” Whatever progress they made, though, had since been completely erased. As Republicans in the House try to figure out ways to restore fiscal sanity, eliminating handouts for left-wing groups would be a great place to start.

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We’ve been spending too much time on elections, so let’s get back to pointing out inane, foolish, and destructive government policies. Our latest example comes from the United Kingdom, where politicians are pushing airline ticket taxes to punitive levels and harming the tourism industry. But the real lesson from this story is that it is very dangerous to give politicians a new revenue source.

The airline ticket tax was first imposed by a supposedly Conservative Party government in 1994 at a maximum rate of 10 pounds. During the Blair/Brown Labor Party reign, the tax was boosted to a maximum rate of 50 pounds. Now, the new government, led by ostensible Conservative David Cameron, is pushing the maximum tax up to 75 pounds (more than $120) per ticket. Here’s an excerpt from the story in the Telegraph.

Families are avoiding holidays Egypt and Caribbean because of the high cost of air taxes – even before the hike in passenger duty that comes into place on Monday.

…The duty, which is paid by all travellers on leaving Britain and added automatically to the price when a ticket is booked, is to increase by 50 per cent to some destinations.

It is the second significant rise in two years, and figures show that previous hikes have already influenced people’s choice of holiday destinations.

…Bob Atkinson, travel expert at Travelsupermarket.com, said: “Families looking to book for this winter and summer next year will be faced with tax rises of up to 54 per cent on their family holidays. This tax rise is completely out of line with inflation and bears no relation to the original purpose of the tax.

…The tax was introduced in 1994 at the rate of £10 on long-haul flights, but increased by the previous Government, which said it was a necessary “green measure”.

…The increases mean a family of four flying to the Caribbean will pay £300 in duty compared with the old rate of £200 or £160 last year. Willie Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways, has branded the higher taxes a “disaster”. Earlier this month, he called the duty a “disgrace”.

No wonder families are choosing not to travel. But, more important, imagine what American politicians will do if they ever succeed in imposing a value-added tax. The rate initially will be low (just as the original income tax had a top rate of just 7 percent), but nobody should delude themselves into thinking the rate won’t quickly climb as greedy politicians get hooked on a new form of revenue cocaine to feed their spending addictions.

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Here are a handful of the posters being used in the United Kingdom to fight the perversely-destructive proposal to increase tax rates on capital gains. (for an explanation of why the tax should be abolished, see here)

Which one is your favorite? I’m partial to the last one because of my interest in tax competition.

By the way, “CGT” is capital gains tax, and “Vince” and “Cable” refers to Vince Cable, one of the politicians pushing this punitive class-warfare scheme.

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For the umpteenth time, a Washington Post columnist has a turgid piece urging the Republican Party to embrace big government. Normally this type of column is written by a graybeard establishmentarian like David Broder or E.J. Dionne, but Ruth Marcus has decided to play the I-wonder-if-my-enemies-are-so-stupid-that-they’ll-accept-my-suggestion-to-commit-suicide game.

Marcus bases her argument on the fact that David Cameron and the U.K. Conservative Party are raising taxes and (supposedly) slashing spending. I have no idea whether Marcus is being deliberately dishonest, but I’ve already posted the unvarnished data showing U.K. government spending will rise by about twice the rate of inflation this year. If that’s a 25 percent cut, then I play centerfield for the New York Yankees.

Marcus is right about the Tory love affair with higher taxes. Indeed, her poorly researched column doesn’t go far enough. She failed to point out that Cameron is leaving in place the new 50 percent top tax rate, even though it almost certainly will result in less tax revenue.

To put it simply, Ruth Marcus wants Republicans to be like the Tories. But I’m guessing that she wants this result because it means bigger government under the guise of fiscal responsibility.

If Republicans had any brains (always a risky assumption), they will ignore this pre-scripted suicide note and actually do their jobs by saying no to higher taxes and saying yes (finally!) to real spending restaint.

I endured the Ruth Marcus column and it was paintful, so I don’t suggest you go through the trouble of reading it. If you’re curious about what she wrote, here’s an excerpt:

…instead of conjuring up sugarplum visions of pain-free change, the Conservatives are addressing their fiscal crisis with seriousness and specificity. Osborne is about to unveil an austere deficit-reduction plan that will cut most departmental budgets by 25 percent over several years. This is not some dead-on-arrival presidential budget; the parliamentary system means that these are for-real cuts. …Second, the Conservatives call for shared sacrifice, starting in a place Republicans seem never to look: at the top. “It’s fair that those with broader shoulders should bear a greater load,” Cameron said. …”Believe me, I understand that most higher rate taxpayers are not the super-rich,” Osborne said. “These days we’ve really got to focus the resources where they are most needed.” Here in the United States, when Democrats dare to propose higher taxes for households making more than $250,000 a year, Republicans shout “class warfare.” …the Conservatives do not embrace the Tea Party vision of government as malevolent force. “I don’t believe in laissez-faire,” Cameron said. …Cameron’s Conservatives do not suffer from the Republicans’ anaphylactic allergy to taxes. While Republicans insist on extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the Conservatives have endorsed tax increases. Yes, you read that right — even though the tax burden is already significantly higher in the United Kingdom. …The value-added tax will go from 17.5 percent to 20 percent. The capital gains tax will increase from 18 percent to 28 percent for high earners because, as Osborne said, sounding more like Warren Buffett than Margaret Thatcher, the rich are “paying less tax than the people who clean for them.”

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Even though he’s allowing the budget to grow twice as fast as inflation, some people seem to think the new U.K. Prime Minster is a fiscal conservative. I’m skeptical. Not only is spending rising much too fast (there are promises of more restraint in the future, but I’ll believe it when it happens), but Cameron and the Tory/Liberal coalition government are increasing the value-added tax and increasing the capital gains tax. Perhaps worst of all, they are leaving in place the new 50 percent tax rate that former Labor Prime Minister Gordon Brown imposed in hopes that class-warfare policy would help him get elected. But as this Daily Telegraph story suggests, it is quite likely that the higher tax rate will lose revenue as productive people escape to Switzerland and other jurisdictions not influenced by the politics of hate and envy.
One-in-four hedge fund employees has already left London to move to Switzerland, which is said to have a more stable tax regime, according to consultancy Kinetic partners. Calculations by the company claim the UK could have already forgone about £500m in tax revenues, based on the 1,000 or so hedge fund managers it says have already left the country. …High-profile departures this year include Alan Howard, founder of Brevan Howard, and Mike Platt, founder of BlueCrest Capital.
This story shows both the power of the Laffer Curve and the importance of tax competition. The greedy politicians in England doubtlessly resent the “brain drain” to Switzerland. Like their U.S. counterparts, politicians view taxpayers as serfs who are supposed to blindly produce more income for the ruling class to expropriate and redistribute.
While I’m obviously not a big fan of British fiscal policy, America is worse in one important way. At least British taxpayers have the liberty to leave without being raped by the U.K. tax authority. Once they leave the United Kingdom and make their home in Switzerland, they are no longer British taxpayers. Americans who want to move, by contrast, are unable to escape the punitive internal revenue code. Indeed, the United States is one of the few nations in the world to have exit taxes, an odious approach generally associated with loathsome regimes such as the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

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