The Presidential Medal of Failure

​The “Laffer Curve” is the intellectual basis of supply-side economics. It posits that tax cuts pay for themselves through faster economic growth.

It is also demonstrably bogus. 

The Laffer Curve is the economic equivalent of phrenology or alchemy. It’s a perpetual motion machine with a cold fusion backup battery. It’s been debunked by anyone who has a smidgen of economic education and is championed only by those who have a vested interest in Republican political priorities which have long been advanced with the Laffer Curve as its intellectual cover. Even those who have embraced it — firstly and most notably Ronald Reagan — have watched it fail in practice and have had to backtrack on either their tax cut policy or their professed concern about budget deficits in the face of its failure. The practical consequence of all of that voodoo is that we, as a nation, have turned our backs on the poor, abandoned our commitment to a social safety net and have advanced the priorities of the rich and the powerful to the exclusion of almost all things because, hey, that’s where the politics born of supply side economics have necessarily taken us. 

So, of course, Donald Trump gave Art Laffer, the inventor of the Laffer Curve, the Presidential Medal of Freedom this morning

A couple of decades after the Laffer Curve got popular in right wing circles Republicans decided that it was of the highest priority to invade Iraq. As was the case with their tax cuts, the Republicans’ war plans were based on bogus thinking. In this case bogus intelligence, woven out of whole cloth, and bogus projections of how the invasion and occupation would go, which discounted any potential complication and promised a fantasy that ignored the basic lessons of every armed conflict in the history of mankind. It was, of course, a nearly unmitigated disaster that, sure, deposed a despot, but also led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands, the physical and psychological misery of millions and the destabilization of a large chunk of the planet for 16 years and counting. 

The architects of that whole deal were given Presidential Medals of Freedom too

I spend a lot of time wondering how we can make our country and our world a better place. Then I remember that the men behind the two most disastrous and destructive initiatives of the past 40 years were given medals for what they did and realize that there seems to be very little interest in doing so. 

Craig Calcaterra

Craig is the author of the daily baseball (and other things) newsletter, Cup of Coffee. He writes about other things at He lives in New Albany, Ohio with his wife, two kids, and many cats.