Reflection on Dr. Art Laffer

On Wednesday, October 24, 2018, Dr. Art Laffer ’63 delivered a talk on “Trump, Taxes, and Trade.” Dr. Laffer served as a member of President Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board for both of his terms in office (1981-1989), and was the architect of the administration’s tax cuts in the 1980s. His accomplishments have earned him the distinction of being called “The Father of Supply-Side Economics.”

By: Ward Hanser

Dr. Laffer began his talk by giving a broad overview of his personal economic philosophy. This is highlighted by his 5 Pillars of Economics, which, he explains, are the foundation we must build upon if we are to achieve sustained and reproducible economic growth. The 5 Pillars are a low rate; broad base flat taxation to minimize personal and economic negatives; restrained spending; sound money to allow for contracts and future planning; minimal regulation; and free trade.

While these are all crucial, Dr. Laffer emphasized the need for free trade. When asked about the trade war with China, India, and other nations, he re-acknowledged our need for trade but did not see much of a problem with President Trump’s brinkmanship. In his eyes, the United States is still the most free-trade nation in the world; however, he believes a world with no trade barriers would be most beneficial for economic prosperity. Other countries’ currency manipulation, tariffs, and other barriers to trade (as well as our own) prevent this goal. If countries are unwilling to meet to talk about trade, he sees no alternative in order to truly get them to agree to talk on how to reduce trade barriers.

Dr. Laffer’s favorite Beach boy’s song is Barbara Ann.

Ward Hanser is a sophomore in Pierson College.