Do tax cuts pay for themselves?

If you’re a curmudgeon — and, really, why aren’t you? — you’re probably a fan of Mark Haines, the morning anchor on business channel CNBC, who isn’t shy about “calling shennanigans” when guesswork is disguised as economic theory.

This morning, for example, a guest predicted the Dow will drop to 5,000. “A couple of years ago when the financial world was ending, it only went to 6,000,” an incredulous Haines noted.

So it’s good news that Haines is a blogger now (and, being a curmudgeon, hates the word blogger). Today, he takes on the question of whether continuing the Bush tax cuts is necessary for a recovering economy:

While President Bush was telling the public that tax cuts pay for themselves, his 2003 Economic Report of the President, pages 57-58, told a very different story:

“Although the economy grows in response to tax reductions (because of higher consumption in the short run and improved incentives in the long run), it is unlikely to grow so much that lost tax revenue is completely recovered by the higher level of economic activity.”

If the President’s own report is not convincing, here’s a sampling of leading economists’ opinions, all of whom have impeccable Republican and/or conservative credentials:

Haines’ commentary is informed, biting, and invites discussion. He’s a well-hidden treasure in financial reporting. This morning he gave a Wall Street Journal columnist a chance to prove him wrong. Did he succeed? You decide.

Afterward, Haines commented to a colleague, “they’re not disagreeing with me, they’re disagreeing with the conservative commentators I cited.

Ouch. Bitten by their own words.

In a little bit I’ll add another video here of what happens when you leave these sorts of issues to the “we’ll have to leave it there” crowd.