In his budget reboot speech yesterday, Paul Ryan asserted that allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire would lead to economic calamity:
we cannot get our economy back on track if Washington tries to tax its way out of this mess.
The economics profession has been really clear about this – higher marginal tax rates create a drag on economic growth.
As the University of Chicago’s John Cochrane recently wrote: “No country ever solved a debt problem by raising tax rates. Countries that solved debt problems grew, so that reasonable tax rates times much higher income produced lots of tax revenue. Countries that did not grow inflated or defaulted.”
Since the proposal in question involves restoring Clinton-era top tax rates, let's look and see how that worked out:
It seems pretty clear that whatever work-disincentive effect marginal tax rates may have, we're well below the point where it can be detected.