By Michael Bryan
I was generally quite satisfied with Dr. Carmona's very first political debate performance against Jeff Flake. He missed some opportunities, and he was certainly too eager to hug some of Flake's positions, but he acquitted himself decently.
One flub that stood out, however, was his answer to moderator Ted Simons' question regarding the Laffer Curve (supply side economic theory that lowering taxes encourages growth to the extent that tax revenues will actually increase at the lower rate). Simons asked, "The idea that lower taxes equals growth, means more revenue to the government: supply side, Laffer Curve, whatever you want to call it. That kind of economic theory. Valid?"
I can't embed the C-SPAN video clip of the question and Carmona's answer, but you can see it here.
Dr. Carmona said, "It is valid to a certain extent - the markets are much more complex than that, but I'm in agreement with Mark [Victor, the Libertarian candidate], and in fact I'm in agreement with the Congressman that we have to do everything we can to lower the tax rates."
No, Doctor. That is not how any Democrat, even an independent one, should EVER answer such a question. It's like telling a Birther that he has a valid point.
The Laffer Curve is complete malarkey (as Joe Biden would put it...). No credible economist takes it seriously, and there in absolutely no empirical support for the idea. Just the opposite in fact. Our economy grows more robustly when the tax code fosters a more equitable income distribution through progressive taxation - asking the wealthy to do proportionally more to fund government aids growth.
Now, I have been reassured by the Carmona campaign that Dr. Carmona certainly does NOT believe in the economic thoeries surrounding the Laffer Curve - he made a mis-statement in agreeing with the idea to any degree.
His campaign made an official announcement in response to my rather pissed-off late-night inquiry:
"Dr. Carmona wants comprehensive tax reform that would make our tax code simpler and fairer. Dr. Carmona believes raising taxes on the middle class would be hazardous in a still recovering economy, but he would eliminate loopholes for those at the very top. Dr. Carmona would lower corporate tax rates in order to ensure small businesses stop paying the highest rates in the world. But he would also do away with special breaks that allow some of our most profitable businesses to pay nothing in taxes."
A candidate can make mistakes; especially one who is in a bruisingly hard-fought, high-profile race as close as this one, his very first time running for public office. I'll give the good Doctor some slack - and even sent him a contribution for running such an excellent and responsive campaign.
And you should, too. You can be a BlogForArizona contributor to the Push For Victory by contributing to the toss-up Congressional races in Arizona, including Dr. Carmona's. Far better a candidate who made a mistake but shares our values, than one who truly and deeply believes in malarkey like the Laffer Curve - which Jeff Flake certainly does.
But I'll also give Doctor Carmona some advice. Next time, answer such a question in a way that frames the debate, denies the malarkey of the GOP, and supports the President's message. For example:
"No credible economist agrees with Republican's voodoo economic idea that lowering tax rates ultimately always pays for itself by increasing revenues: and I listen to those know know the facts. Certainly, the deficits of the last three decades show that such ideas are ludicrous. There are virtues in keeping taxes low and even reducing rates on middle class folks, however. It puts more money in their pockets that folks will immediately spend to spur demand in our economy in this diffcult time. We don't want to slow the economy down just as it's getting moving again by raising taxes on those average Americans who drive consumer spending, which is over 70% of our economy. But there is no evidence that asking the wealthiest to pay a bit more will hurt economic growth, or hold back job creation. Just the opposite: history teaches us that our economy grows most robustly when the wealthy are asked to shoulder their fair share of funding government. I side with the evidence, the lessons of history, and our struggling Middle Class when it comes to tax policy."
Now that's an answer to Simons' question that provides real contrast between the candidates for the voters.