Clueless Quote of the Day (Bachmann on Taxes)

“For my tax plan, I take a page out of one of my great economists that I admire, Ronald Reagan.  And under my tax plan I want to adopt the Reagan tax plan. It brought the economic miracle of the 1980s. Why not go with what works? I want to reinstitute the Reagan tax model from the 1980s.”—Michelle Bachmann.

I guess we shouldn’t mention that the top marginal rate during most of the Reagan era was 50%, huh?

More details from PolitiFact:

In 1981, Reagan’s first year, the top tax rate was 70 percent, hitting individuals earning $108,300 and couples earning $215,400. The top rate dropped immediately to 50 percent in 1982 and stayed there through 1986. In 1987, the top rate fell again to 38.5 percent, and in 1988, it fell to 28 percent, kicking in at $17,850 for married individuals and $29,750 for married couples. (The 1988 incomes would be equivalent to $33,229 and $55,382 today.)

At the moment the top marginal rate is 35%, but you have to make over $379,150 to hit that bracket. 

BTW, to get to the 28% bracket at the moment you have to be a single person making between $83,600-$174,400 or $139,350-$212,3000 if married and filing jointly (brackets here).  So while in the very last year of the Reagan administration the top bracket was lower, it kicked in at a much lower income level.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Taxes, US Politics, , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. We could also add in the fact that Ronald Reagan wasn’t an economist.

    He did, however, hire several pretty good ones to work for him. Two of them, David Stockman and Bruce Bartlett, are now essentially persona non grata to the Tea Party types.

  2. Hey Norm says:

    I think I’ll cut her some slack on this…persecuting someone for a gaffe annoys me…especially someone as silly as Bachmann. JTea has typed

    “…57 States…”

    so many times he can do it by muscle memory. It’s just annoying.
    But the reality is that the entirety of the Republican party is intent on raising taxes on the lower and middle classes. What do you think all this 47% pay no taxes implies? Saying they should have skin in the game means you want to raise their taxes. And if you agree with SLT’s post from this morning that the 47% is actually much larger…or the 53% is much smaller depending on your viewpoint…then the intented tax increase will affect even more people. Not sure how the CBO would score the effectiveness of that tax increase but I find it hard to believe we are going to tax our way out of this on the backs of people making $20K a year.
    Let’s call the Republicans on that no tax increases ever hypocrisy. Not silly gaffes from silly people.

  3. Heaven forbid I be charitable to Michelle Bachmann, but I think the “Reagan tax model” is a fairly obvious reference to the post-1982 rates. And the 50% rate until 1986 was hardly comparable to the post-86 rates, as the actual tax rate paid was far lower due to the much broader ability to legally itemize deductions and illegally cheat (all the AGI ceilings and floors for business and health expenses we have today didn’t exist; you could deduct interest on virtually any loan; there was no IRS verification at all of dependents, short of audits) prior to the 1986 reforms.

  4. Gerry W. says:

    The political rhetoric of the day is that the Kennedy and the Reagan tax cuts created jobs.

    Romney talked about the Reagan tax cuts and the jobs created. Never mind that Paul Volcker lowered interest rates and you had a recovery and people went back to the factories. Reagan did not have to deal with globalization with 1/3 of our manufacturing gone. And today, we have a housing crisis in the dumps that needs time to heel.

    Guiliani was on Piers Morgan and praised both the Kennedy and Reagan tax cuts. Once again, globalization was not the issue in those days.

    On top of that, we had the Bush tax cuts for years.

  5. WR says:

    @Gerry W.: I’m all in favor of the Kennedy tax cuts. I think we should restore the top bracket to 72%, just like he did.

  6. Just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @WR: Yes, I agree. We should lower the top marginal rate to 72%. Wait, you say that’s not a cut? It must be, I DID say “lower” didn’t I?

  7. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Well, if by the “Reagan model” Bachmann also means to advocate for an increase of the payroll tax (which Reagan signed off on), a massive increase of the self employment tax (which Reagan signed off on) and selectively to eliminate particular deductions, which instantly caused hardships for lots of people (which Reagan signed off on), then count me out.

    Not a fan of Huntsman’s in the general sense, but his by far is the best tax reform proposal that’s been advanced. Dramatically lower rates on a broader base of income with clarity and a lack of selective tweaks is the best we can hope for and would do wonders for the economy and for the fiscal and debt problems.

  8. Ben Wolf says:

    It brought the economic miracle of the 1980s.

    Average economic growth slowed from 3.7 percent in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s to 3.0 percent in the 1980’s. What was the miracle? That Reagan managed to weaken a vibrant economy in a single-bound?

  9. Bob says:

    Yes the 47% that pay no income taxes should have skin in the game. And the tax code should not be used as a substitute for the welfare system as it is now.

    But the real issue is cutting the size of government not raising revenue. All raising revenue does is allow politicians to spend more and make the government more intrusive and controlling.

  10. doubter4444 says:

    Lord you must be a cretin.
    Virtually all the talking points you just spouted are either debunked in this post or several others on the top page.
    The sheer unwillingness to face reality and the obtuseness you display is remarkable.
    Exit question: (as completely dense as you are, I’m assuming you read HotAir, if not do so, the water is great there!) as Allapundit (and in fairness, he’s the most sane blogger there):
    Is Obama going to war against Christians now?

  11. Derek Wain says:

    It is Steven Taylor who is totally clueless. His blog is political propaganda, not reporting.
    Bachmann proposed lowering tax rates as Reagan did. She did not call for specific Reagan rates.
    See an accurate report from Reuters.
    Bachmann calls for Reagan-like tax cuts

  12. Gerry W. says:

    @Derek Wain:

    So, does it make any difference? We have had the Bush tax cuts for almost 10 years. How did that voodoo economics work? The point is that republicans are still stuck on their tax cuts as they ignore all the other problems (outside of cutting spending, maybe). While tax cuts are a tool, it still ignores globalization and all the other problems. We got the tax cuts from Bush but we lost the jobs.

  13. doubter4444 says:

    If you this this blog is “political propaganda” you are high.
    There are many of those, for sure, but not this one.