Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Thompson Interview

Some compelling, pro-growth ideas from likely GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson on last night's Kudlow & Company. Here's a sampling...

KUDLOW: Let's pick up on a couple of those ideas. First of all, tax reform. Specifically, sir, what kind of tax reform were you thinking about?

Mr. THOMPSON: Well, I don't want to get into a lot of details in terms of a plan before I even announce my candidacy—but simpler without question. You know, I'm told now that most people can't figure out how to compute their capital gains and dividend liability. Things could just get more and more complicated.

We got the ridiculous thing with the death tax where on December 31st, you know, 2010, if you die, you have zero liability. But, if you die 24 hours later, you know, you could lose over half your estate to the federal government. That’s just one indicator of the ridiculousness that's in the tax code now. It makes us less competitive in a lot of different ways. We have, you know—if you include state taxes—the highest corporate tax rate in the world. That makes us less competitive. All those things have to be looked at. And all those—especially as far as the corporate tax rate is concerned, need to be clearly reduced, I think.

KUDLOW: Yeah, it's an interesting point. There's been a bunch of news articles. Europe, believe it or not--I mean, old Europe, believe it or not is engaging in low tax-cutting competition. And...

Mr. THOMPSON: It's ironic that when western Europe starts going lower than you, you need to be concerned about it.

KUDLOW: So one of your moves as president would be to go right after that...


KUDLOW: ...and then get us back into equilibrium? Is that right?

Mr. THOMPSON: Yeah. There's no question about it. There's no excuse for doing otherwise, other than some of this class warfare demagoguery we see coming from the Democrats. I think that you see it mostly when it comes to the individual income tax rate debate. But you see it with regard to the corporate situation also.

KUDLOW: How about just a quickie before we take our first break, sir. Extending the Bush tax cuts, all the Democrats, all the Democrats—Hillary, Obama, Edwards—want to rollback. They want to repeal the Bush tax cuts, which in effect would be a very large tax rate increase. Your quick thought on that.

Mr. THOMPSON: Well, it's a no-brainer to resist them with all of our power. It's the driving force of this good economy that we're seeing. We're raising more revenue with these lower tax rates than we've ever raised before for the federal government. It's clearly, for them, not about raising money for the legitimate functions of government, it's about redistribution of income and collecting votes. You set the rate where you think you can get the votes, and anything above that, you want to tax. So instead of trying to make the pie bigger, they're trying to concentrate totally on redividing the pie. And that just means less economic growth and a worse economy.

KUDLOW: Do we have an income and wage inequality in this country necessary for government action? I mean, that again is part of the Democratic mantra, to raise taxes on the rich.

Mr. THOMPSON: Well, I don't know who should be set up as responsible for determining how much a person ought to make. But I think a country where 5 percent of the people pay over half the income taxes in this country, that as far as the tax structure is concerned, that's not any equality that I would name.