"Steeply progressive taxation paid for the postwar investments in infrastructure, science and education that enabled the average American family to get ahead.
That only changed in the late 1970s, when high inflation drove up wages and pushed the middle class into higher tax brackets. Harnessing the widespread anger, Reagan put it to work on behalf of the rich.
In a move that GOP Majority Leader Howard Baker called a "riverboat gamble," Reagan sold the country on an "across-the-board" tax cut that brought the top rate down to 50 percent.
According to supply-side economists, the wealthy would use their tax break to spur investment, and the economy would boom. And if it didn't " well, to Reagan's cadre of small-government conservatives, the resulting red ink could be a win-win. "We started talking about just cutting taxes and saying, Screw the deficit,'"
Bartlett recalls. "We had this idea that if you lowered revenues, the concern about the deficit would be channeled into spending cuts."
It was the birth of what is now known as "Starve the Beast" " a conscious strategy by conservatives to force cuts in federal spending by bankrupting the country.
As conceived by the right-wing intellectual Irving Kristol in 1980, the plan called for Republicans to create a "fiscal problem" by slashing taxes " and then foist the pain of reimposing fiscal discipline onto future Democratic administrations who, in Kristol's words, would be forced to "tidy up afterward."
Same thing with GW then Obama.