Trump to honor Reagan economist with Medal of Freedom
President Donald Trump on Wednesday honored economist Arthur Laffer, a former adviser to Ronald Reagan who is known as the father of supply side economics, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“Few people in history have revolutionized economic thought and policy like Dr. Art Laffer. He developed a brilliant theory, shaped unprecedented economic reforms and helped turn a severe recession into a remarkable boom,” Trump said during an Oval Office ceremony to award Laffer with the nation’s highest civilian honor.
The President also claimed that Laffer’s work “spurred economic reforms around the world and helped lift untold millions out of poverty,” though other factors contributed to tax cutting and deregulation around the globe at that time.
Accepting the medal, Laffer — who was also the first chief economist of the Office of Management and was a consultant to the Treasury and Defense departments — thanked his family and many of his “teammates,” which include several Trump administration economic advisers and Cabinet members, as well as former Vice President Dick Cheney and economist Milton Friedman.
Laffer’s work gained popularity under Reagan, when the administration argued that the effect of lower tax rates “trickle down” to the rest of the economy, spurring economic growth and increasing government revenue. It’s a concept adopted by the economic advisers of the Trump administration, which has included Laffer’s associates, Larry Kudlow and Stephen Moore.
Despite conservatives’ praise of Laffer’s philosophy on taxes, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has repeatedly suggested that tax cuts may not be having the effect Laffer has championed.
In 2014, the CRS concluded that “slower growth periods have generally been associated with lower, not higher, tax rates.” And a preliminary observation report from last month found that Trump’s tax cuts have not yet led to the economic growth promised by the administration.
According to an analysis by the Treasury Department, the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 led to decreases in revenues that had to be made up later in Reagan’s term in office.
Laffer was also a former economic adviser for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and was among some of the President’s earliest supporters on his stance on the economy, specifically championing Trump’s tax cuts. He has, however, disagreed with the President on tariffs and increasing infrastructure spending.
The economist wrote a book last year with Moore, who was nominated to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors earlier this year. Moore withdrew his name from consideration amid criticism for his disparaging comments about women, which was extensively reported on by CNN. Moore is also a former CNN contributor.
The book, “Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy,” praised Trump’s efforts to revive the economy. The President tweeted that the authors “have really done a great job in capturing my long-held views and ideas.”
CNN’s Lydia DePillis contributed to this report.