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Britain’s Gamble on Tax Cuts has Economists Warning of Past Mistakes

  • September 29, 2022

The statement noted that the tax cuts would most likely increase economic inequality, and it urged the British government to “provide support that is more targeted and re-evaluate the tax measures, especially those that benefit high income earners.”

Ms. Truss is not the first conservative politician in recent years to come into office promising to slash taxes. Mr. Trump also campaigned on — and ultimately delivered — “massive tax cuts” in 2017, a package that only Republican lawmakers backed. Decades ago, President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain both pursued tax-cutting agendas that cemented their legacies in office.

Ms. Truss has been cheered on by conservative champions of supply-side economics in the United States, including many of the chief backers of Mr. Trump’s tax cuts. Stephen Moore, who served as an outside economic adviser to the former president, praised Ms. Truss for her willingness “to challenge the reigning orthodoxy by sharply cutting taxes to boost growth,” calling the package “a gutsy and sound policy decision.”

“By far the most important change is the reduction in the top income tax rate from 45 percent to 40 percent,” Mr. Moore wrote. “This will bring jobs, capital and businesses back to the U.K.”

A host of critics, though, have lined up to denounce the tax package, warning it will provoke economic war with the Bank of England and risk a damaging combination of economic contraction and soaring prices, which could in turn hurt the global recovery.

The impact of previous tax cuts, including those signed into law by Mr. Trump in 2017, provides fodder for those critiques.

Much as Ms. Truss has proposed to do, Mr. Trump reduced tax rates for income earners across the spectrum, including those in the highest bracket. He also cut a variety of business tax rates — a contrast with the British plan, which cancels a planned increase in corporate taxes. Mr. Trump said his full package of cuts would jump-start economic activity by encouraging businesses to invest, hire and raise wages.

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