John F. Kennedy, tax policy, and Apple Inc.

“With fourth-quarter GDP growth estimated at less than 2%, an unemployment rate above 7% for almost five years, and the lowest percentage of Americans employed or looking for work since 1978, America needs lessons from President John F. Kennedy,” Diana Furchtgott-Roth writes for MarketWatch. “Here are six lessons from Kennedy, who was assassinated 50 years ago today.”

Lesson 1: Economic growth creates jobs: Kennedy, dissatisfied with economic growth rates of 2%, wanted four or five percent growth. Speaking on the Indianapolis radio station WTTV on Oct. 4, 1960, he said “In order to maintain full employment in the 1960s, which, after all, must be the object for all of us, we are going to have to have an economic growth twice what we had last year, about 4.5% per year instead of 2.4%.”

Lesson 2: Lower taxes stimulate economic growth: On Sept. 18, 1963, JFK said, “A tax cut means higher family income and higher business profits and a balanced federal budget. Every taxpayer and his family will have more money left over after taxes for a new car, a new home, new conveniences, education and investment. Every businessman can keep a higher percentage of his profits in his cash register or put it to work expanding or improving his business, and as the national income grows, the federal government will ultimately end up with more revenues.”

Lesson 3: Tax havens attract multinationals: In a message to Congress on taxation on April 20, 1961, he said, “In those countries where income taxes are lower than in the United States, the ability to defer the payment of U.S. tax by retaining income in the subsidiary companies provides a tax advantage for companies operating through overseas subsidiaries that is not available to companies operating solely in the United States. Many American investors properly made use of this deferral in the conduct of their foreign investment.” Today the top American corporate federal tax rate is 35%, compared to the 24% average of the countries in the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development.

Lesson 4: High taxes slow capital formation: The disincentive effects of high taxes for investment in plant and equipment was a constant theme in Kennedy’s presidency. Kennedy advocated an investment tax credit to encourage capital formation. Although it would have been more efficient to allow capital to simply be expensed, an investment tax credit is better than nothing.

Lesson 5: High taxes reduce risk-taking: Kennedy wrote in a Jan. 24, 1963, message to Congress, “Our tax system still siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power and reduces the incentive for risk, investment and effort — thereby aborting our recoveries and stifling our national growth rate.” Entrepreneurs add to the growth of the economy by using their ideas to create new firms, and often new jobs. The success of Apple, Twitter, and Google offers just a few examples of the payoff to new ideas. If Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had simply taken a job with IBM, the development of the computer industry would have been far slower.

Lesson 6: Lower taxes generate more revenue for Uncle Sam Ira Stoll, author of “JFK, Conservative,” told me “Kennedy’s tax cuts were the model for Reagan’s, and they did exactly what Kennedy predicted they would — lead to economic growth so vigorous that federal revenues ended up rising even at the lower tax rates. Kennedy wanted to cut not just the 91% income tax rate to 65%, but also the 25% capital gains rate to 19.5% — lower than the 23.8% top rate now under President Obama.” After the tax cuts, real GDP grew at 5.8% in 1964, 6.5% in 1965, and 6.6% in 1966. The unemployment rate declined from 5.2% in 1964 to 3.8% in 1966, falling all the way to 3.5% in 1969.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The U.S. corporate tax rate is way too high. Obviously.

Under the current U.S. corporate tax system, it would be very expensive to repatriate that cash. Unfortunately, the tax code has not kept up with the digital age. The tax system handicaps American corporations in relation to our foreign competitors who don’t have such constraints on the free flow of capital… Apple has always believed in the simple, not the complex. You can see it in our products and the way we conduct ourselves. It is in this spirit that we recommend a dramatic simplification of the corporate tax code. This reform should be revenue neutral, eliminate all corporate tax expenditures, lower corporate income tax rates and implement a reasonable tax on foreign earnings that allows the free flow of capital back to the U.S. We make this recommendation with our eyes wide open, realizing this would likely increase Apple’s U.S. taxes. But we strongly believe such comprehensive reform would be fair to all taxpayers, would keep America globally competitive and would promote U.S. economic growth.Apple CEO Tim Cook, May 21, 2013

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

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  1. Kennedy today would be to the right of George W. Bush (and George H.W. Bush, for that matter).

    If alive today, JFK would never be nominated by today’s Democrat party. He might have a shot at getting the GOP nom, though.

    The 35th president was an ardent tax-cutter who championed across-the-board, top-to-bottom reductions in personal and corporate tax rates, slashed tariffs to promote free trade, and even spoke out against the “confiscatory” property taxes being levied in too many cities.

    He was anything but a big-spending, welfare-state liberal. “I do not believe that Washington should do for the people what they can do for themselves through local and private effort,” Kennedy bluntly avowed during the 1960 campaign. One of his first acts as president was to institute a pay cut for top White House staffers, and that was only the start of his budgetary austerity. “To the surprise of many of his appointees,” longtime aide Ted Sorensen would later write, he “personally scrutinized every agency request with a cold eye and encouraged his budget director to say ‘no.’”

    He was a Cold War anticommunist who aggressively increased military spending. He faulted his Republican predecessor for tailoring the nation’s military strategy to fit the budget, rather than the other way around. “We must refuse to accept a cheap, second-best defense,” JFK said during his run for the White House. He made good on that pledge, pushing defense spending to 50 percent of federal expenditures and 9 percent of GDP, both far higher than today’s levels. Speaking in Texas just hours before his death, he proudly took credit for building the US military into “a defense system second to none.”

    Today’s Democratic Party — the home of Barack Obama, John Kerry, and Al Gore — wouldn’t give the time of day to a candidate like JFK.

    1. That’s well said and no one can ignore that in less than 1000 days in office the fixed a lot or wrongs. He was in the seat for a fraction of the last few presidents and did so much good politically. It’s interesting how every government is tax hungry now and Apple is in the crosshairs.
      Well said for sure the facts speak, we can change this in a positive direction.

      1. As a fiscal conservative I admire the positions and actions taken by Kennedy.

        The only thing he did that I take exception to is an Executive Order permitting government employees to organize. Since then government employee compensation/benefit packages have grown to a point where commiserate government jobs pay in excess of private sector jobs. Further, since then education unions have increased the cost of operating a single classroom to 5X the teacher’s salary.

        The monies you pay to school districts are not seen in the classroom, instead get spent (many times fraudulently) on priorities that benefit union leadership more than students.

        Don’t believe me? Get off your ass and do the simplest of research. Check out who is supporting your school board members, and what hires and expenditures those elected members execute.

        You might also watch “Rebirth: New Orleans” and “The Cartel”, both on Netflix.

    2. Dude, he lowered those rates from like 90%. There is virtually nobody across the political spectrum in America who wants taxes that high. That doesn’t mean Kennedy would want the rates even lower today.

      And getting a presidential nomination depends on far more than your view of tax rates. Would Kennedy be in support of abortion rights? Would he support the food stamp program? Would he have supported the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, Gitmo, extraordinary rendition? Would he have been in favor of the Affordable Care Act? Would he have been willing to flog Barack Obama in appeasement of the bloodthirsty Republican base? These are all important factors in determining where one stands politically.

      If Kennedy was alive today, he’d be an Obama/Clinton Democratic moderate. At worst he’d be a little right of center with Colin Powell, and there’s no way in hell General Powell could get the Republican nomination today.

      1. Well, as per abortion, JFK was Roman Catholic (like Paul Ryan), but, of course, he was also boinking anything that moved in extra-marital fashion (unlike Paul Ryan who, by all accounts, is happily married), so your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps he’d be a RCINO like Biden? Likely not, as JFK did say this:

        “Now, on the question of limiting population: as you know the Japanese have been doing it very vigorously, through abortion, which I think would be repugnant to all Americans.” – John F. Kennedy

        1. And Vice President Biden is also Roman Catholic, another moderate Democrat who’d more closely resemble the contemporary mold of Kennedy than the caricature you’ve painted. In fact most Catholics are in favor of keeping abortion legal in some form or another. You can be personally against it, as I am, without wanting to throw women in prison for choosing the procedure. There’s a big damn difference and I doubt Kennedy would want Roe v Wade overturned.

          1. Like I wrote above, Biden is a RCINO.

            He calls himself Roman Catholic, but fails to follow his faith in certain major respects.

            You either follow the tenants of the faith or you don’t. Those who pick and choose what they’d like to follow according to their own liking are hypocrites.

            People like Biden should go start their own faith, don’t dilute existing faiths in order to suit their whims and failings.

            1. Kennedy cheated on women. “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife”.

              That’s not very godly of him. (In lowercase since no such invisible man that floats in the universe exists.)

      2. “And getting a presidential nomination depends on far more than your view of tax rates. Would Kennedy be in support of abortion rights? Would he support the food stamp program? Would he have supported the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, Gitmo, extraordinary rendition? Would he have been in favor of the Affordable Care Act?”

        There it is, the red herring argument. None of those “issues” should be on the debate table until our fiscal condition is fixed. None of those “issues” can bankrupt our Country, deficit spending and a fantastically growing national debt can.

        1. ALL of these issues should be on the table along with the economy. Since when is it impossible to pursue multiple objectives in parallel? That is one of the problems with the politicians in the modern Republican Party. They focus on one item, one bill, one law, as if it is so important that everything else can be ignored. “XXXXX” is going to destroy America! “YYYYY” is going to destroy America! We must shut down the government until this thing is fixed! And it must be fixed in our way!

          That kind of fear mongering is irresponsible. This country is pretty tough, as exemplified by the fact that it still stands after decades of political bullshit. So let’s take a step back, calm down, step away from the political extremes, and engage in honest and open debate leading to reasonable compromise and positive action. Because no matter how many issues are in dispute, I guarantee that there are many more issues upon which the vast majority of U.S. citizens agree.

      3. Way to set things straight, R2. Few would argue with the idea that reducing tax rates from 91% to 65% was a good step in the right direction. The question is, where should it stop? What is a reasonable and acceptable tax rate? Lowering taxes eventually has diminishing returns in terms of growth stimulus, and also has negative consequences when large tax cuts combined with excessive spending result in large annual deficits and accumulating national debt.

        The first step is to work towards a balanced budget. Cuts to spending come before cuts to taxes, and those spending cuts must include significant cuts to the defense budget.

        Tax reform is also important. All taxes are not created equal, and a simplified and more balanced tax structure will benefit the nation.

        Once deficits significantly shrink, we can begin to slowly adjust tax rates, as appropriate. As we approach a balanced budget and the economy continues to grow, the national debt will gradually shrink as a percentage of GDP. At that point, we will be well along the path towards a stronger economy and a stronger nation.

    3. 1960s ≠ 2010s. Tax policies from the 1960s do not take into account the reality of out of control economic inequality devastating the vast majority of Americans today.

      1. Tax policy is theoretically the same only rates change and what is or is not taxed.

        That said, the inequality today is indeed higher than ever because the poor followed by the middle class and so forth, are affected the most.

        Reason being, at the same time wages for lower income groups stagnant or are lost due to high unemployment — taxes, college tuition, medical expenses, food, gas, heating oil, et al — continue to rise.

        In simpler terms use my supervisor for an example. He has not gotten a raise since 2007. While making the same salary, his earnings have actually gone down because of increased costs leaving him less disposable income to put into savings, or whatever he chooses. Increased costs force him to cut spending, curtailing economic activity and multiply that reality by millions of Americans.

        This is the reality in America today. Current leaders continue down the wrong path advocating groups that have the most cash (the filthy rich) and big corporations (Apple) pay more of their fair share. Hogwash.

        Apple and many other U.S. corporations no longer manufacture products in the U.S. Cook’s congressional testimony spelled it out because of high taxes as public/private enemy number one.

        If Kennedy lived and all his tax policies were fully enacted, history proves an economic boom would have ensued. Reagan proved the same theory.

        Instead, we went in the complete opposite direction when Johnson was sworn in leading to the creation of the “Great Society.” The blueprint of our current welfare state with skyrocketing numbers of every metric, poverty rates being number one.

        This is not political. Kennedy, Reagan, Tim Cook and MDN from both sides AGREE:

        High taxes curtail economic activity. Low taxes increase economic activity.


        1. You started out OK, Contrarian, but your prose fell apart when you attempted to link tax rates with manufacturing moving overseas. The manufacturing drain began in the early 1970s and continues today. It happened under Reagan despite his tax cuts. It happened under Bush despite his tax cuts. And it also happened under several Democratic Presidents of differing political backgrounds.

          U.S. tax rates are quite low, especially in comparison to the 1950’s and 1960s. But we only have a fraction of the manufacturing base. Things are far more complicated than just tax rates.

          1. “U.S. tax rates are quite low, especially in comparison to the 1950′s and 1960s.”

            Tax rates for whom?

            “But we only have a fraction of the manufacturing base.”

            Absolutely correct. So, are you saying the reduced manufacturing base is due to lower taxes?

            It is not that complicated. Vague responses absent facts mixed with opinion is another story …

      2. Some of those inequalities are the result of government policies that dis-incentivized work and increased dependency. (Are we really better off after spending some $15 Trillion since the Great Society on welfare spending?) And liberal administrations aren’t beyond rewarding their cronies – Obama as bad if not worse than his predecessors – making the rich even richer.

  2. Remember, though, that Kennedy was arguing to lower the top marginal income tax rate from 91% to 70%, still *far* higher than present-day taxes. It’s not at all clear he’d be in favor of reducing taxes below the present rate, 39.6%. The Revenue Act of 1964 (which Lyndon Johnson passed, in an attempt to further Kennedy’s plans after his death) only reduced corporate tax rates from 52% to 48%. Whatever you personally believe about the ethics of taxes, it’s logically problematic to infer that Kennedy would argue for lowering income taxes below their present (much lower) rates than the ones he argued should be lowered [a bit].

    1. Well said! I fear your combination of facts and basic math might go over the heads of many Republicans who seem to stop thinking after hearing the buzz words like “lower taxes.”

      1. And less facts than some Democrats, who hear ‘lower taxes’ and freak, want to consider.

        You might add what the OTHER tax rates paid in the early 60s where and also what were the REAL income tax rates paid after adjusted.

        I know, too much info….keep it simple for the ‘lo-info’ passerby….and promise them something shiny that the well-off owe them.

        1. I like lower taxes. In fact, I think everyone does. Some people just think that there’s some level of taxes that is necessary and fair, and lowering them constantly for everyone isn’t automatically a great idea. I remember, and I appreciated it, when Obama lowered the federal income tax for me and every other middle class Americans following the great recession.

          Another interesting fact – no one actually likes abortion. It’s a terrible experience for anyone to go through. Some people just think it should be safe and legal because it is often is the least terrible option in many real life situations.

            1. You must think all abortionist are like Kermit Gosnell. While he is scum, women have a right to do whatever she wants with her body, including abortion. You probably haven’t gone out much…

            2. Only in the warped head of a Lib would a woman committing murder for pleasure be fine and dandy.

              First the woman has pleasure. Then she fails to be personally responsible for her actions and commits state-sanctioned murder of her own child. 9 out of 10 abortions are the result of what I’ve just described.

              If this fact upsets you, it should. If not, you’re a lost soul.

              Personal Responsibility is a concept that is anathema to “progressives.”

              The government is not your mommy and murder is murder.

            3. Liberals (Democrats, Progressives), in general, want to take the easy way out whenever possible. They want to be cared for, even to the point of sacrificing liberty. They cannot see slippery slopes. They care too much and think too little. See: Obamacare. See the failed policies of the War of Poverty (trillions spent, same level of poverty decades later). See the failed policies of welfare (entire generations dependent, drianing resources, hopelessly turning to crime and drugs).

              Kennedy was right when he said, “I do not believe that Washington should do for the people what they can do for themselves through local and private effort.”

            4. I think the question really is… does she also have right over her passengers? I think that’s the issue here. Is the difference between fetus and infant merely a technicality, or is the fetus not considered human yet? It’s a slippery slope to determine when legally “life” begins.

              In reality, a baby doesn’t come out fully-formed to survive on its own. It takes 10 years at least to achieve independence.

              Science isn’t helping. The more I read about borth, the more amazed I am with how early an unborn child starts learning.

              A pilot has the “right” to end his own life. However, if he does this mid-air, then it’s pretty hard to argue that since he was just exercising his right he’s not responsible for the deaths of all the passengers on board.

              Note: I’m not politically affiliated with any party. It’s just that those who comment here often haven’t gone through these situations themselves.

      2. And just like a fiscal liberal, you completely ignore Kennedy’s position on the welfare State and the importance of a balanced budget. Since LBJ, a Democrat controlled Congress has changed the electorates’ beliefs from personal responsibility to demanding that “government” do (aka PAY) it, even if it means spending money the government doesn’t have.

        We are fast approaching the point of no return (interest on debt exceeds revenues). When that happens the US is bankrupt, and there is no other country to bail us out.

        No amount of tax increases can reverse the trend of ever increasing deficit spending. Obama is the worst President in that regard of any prior Administration.

        Defense of Obama’s Presidency makes you part of the problem.

        1. A balanced budget? You’re kidding right?

          Balancing a budget has nothing to do with any of this it’s a false prophet.

          Since World War II the federal budget deficit has risen almost continually, regardless of which political party has occupied the White House, and regardless of which party has held a majority of seats in the House of Representatives or Senate.

          Federal budgets are determined by politics, not policy or economic science. Since at no time in the process is a budget actually codified, it relies on the cumulative spending choices made throughout the budgeted year.

          As far as Mr. Hermann’s above comment, the American public decides what they want out of their government. Apparently, it doesn’t want what you are selling.

          1. Deficit grow most under Republican administrations and the last balanced budget was during a Democratic administration. Let’s avoid this ‘pox on both houses’ stuff. One part is clearly less fiscal responsible than the other. If this person really cared about the budget he’d have come to the conclusion cutting taxes always results in larger deficits.

        2. What are you talking about… There is more wealth in this country today than at anytime in it’s history. The problem is people like you have been brainwashed into believing the problem is the poor who have the smallest share of wealth in over 50 years or those other Americans i.e. the old, children and the disabled. FACT: Every time taxes have been raised on the wealthy, the deficits shrink and economic growth takes off. Every time taxes are lowered, we have a bubble followed by a crash. This has been true for over 200 years. It happened under Reagan and Clinton, and is happening now under Obama with the repeal of part of the Bush tax cuts. Please stop accepting the lies and blaming of the less fortunate and do a little reading. Stop being a tool!!

  3. Queen Victoria, also found that reducing taxes stimulated economic growth, I heard long ago.
    Today we have governments taxing air (CO2) in a deliberate policy to stifle economic growth.

  4. Dishonest, misleading and lies! This article like most current Republican doctrine is built on the idea that truth is in the eye of the beholder and events should be cast in whatever light best serves the party’s selfish goals. Clearly whoever wrote this decided to ignore what was going on in the United States and the World at the time Kennedy became President. Additionally, they also decided to omit his clearly stated rationale for addressing tax policy and most importantly his positions on social issues. If that were not enough, they actually lied about his position on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Everyone who knew Kennedy and has stated a position, all agree his views would fit quite nicely in the mainstream DEMOCRATIC party (Always wonder why Republicans can’t get the name of the Democratic party correct. Yet another example detachment from reality?).
    Finally, trying to justify social Darwinism via economic policy is intellectually dishonest and in my opinion pathetic. If you believe you should have more because you deserve it, because you ‘earned’ it or just because you’re better than others then just say it and live with the consequences. As a Christian, an American Citizen and a Democrat, please note the order as it reflects my priorities. My suggestion is that the writer, talk less and read more. Clearly in their rush to support their un-Christian an anti-American positions, they decided to do like so many current Republicans, deceive, mislead and lie.

    By the way, what has this got to do with Apple products and Macintosh computers?

      1. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

        Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.

        Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.

        I look forward to a great future for America – a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose.

        War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.

        Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

        The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty, and all forms of human life.

        The basic problems facing the world today are not susceptible to a military solution.

        We believe that if men have the talent to invent new machines that put men out of work, they have the talent to put those men back to work.

        I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for President, who happens also to be a Catholic.

        I hope that no American will waste his franchise and throw away his vote by voting either for me or against me solely on account of my religious affiliation. It is not relevant.

        No one has been barred on account of his race from fighting or dying for America, there are no white or colored signs on the foxholes or graveyards of battle.

        Oh, by the way, Medicare was first proposed and campaigned for by JFK, not Johnson.

        JFK was no conservative, you pathetic right wing troll.

      2. You’re the tool here. While I can understand the stance of very staunch conservatives who feel that supply side/low tax formulas are the preferred pol,icy stance, I can’t abide by your ignorance, lack of compassion for your fellow humans, or a baqsic understanding of how the world really operates.

        Under Kennedy’s tax cuts (whose gains were nullified by the escalation of the Viet Nam conflict), the tax rate was higher and fairer than it is now. In fact, during our largest eras of economic growth and stability, the upper end of the tax rate was significantly higher than it is now. Yet, we had stable growth, rising expectations, an expanding middle class, technological advancement, better education system, and fewer fools like you.

        Destroying the middle class will not make you any better than you are now. Individual freedom is not dependent on yodur vision of low taxersw and less government. intervention. Instead it makes us very vulnerable to falling from what once was the mightiest nation on our planet. Fools like you and the false prophets you worship will be forgotten in less time than it takes for your body to grow cold and rot away

        You are clueless as to what it takes to make societies and economies top thrive. Instead, your nihilistic, self-centered, Un-Christian view of life is indeed the antithesis to what makes societies aspire top greatness.

        Enjoy your eternity in hell, asshole.

      3. Please try to stay with me now… Quotes taken out of context are at best dishonest and if done expressly to mislead then they’re lies. Kennedy was addressing the tax code with the express purpose of increasing taxes paid by the most fortunate Americans. He made this clear in other speeches and during his televised debate with Nixon. Kenndy’s goal was never to lower the burden on the rich and if the author had quoted him accurately then you’d know this. Actively choosing to ignore the overwhelming evidence that Kennedy was expressing looking to collect more from the rich makes the author a liar. Again, suggest you read a history book or two or stop.

    1. “By the way, what has this got to do with Apple products and Macintosh computers?”

      See article tags above.

      The healthier the economy, the better Apple does. Fewer coupon-cutters and more consumers comfortable with treating themselves to the very best instead of settling for piss-poor knockoffs.

      1. Of course a strong economy is good for business. However, presenting a dishonest representation of history has nothing to do with a better economy. This dribble belong on The Drudge report or The Blaze.

    2. “By the way, what has this got to do with Apple products and Macintosh computers?” See comment numbers on Political post vs Apple post. This has nothing to do with Apple.

  5. People need to understand that Lee Harvey Oswald was, indeed, a patsy. A Cuban immigrant named Jesus Cervantes came to the US shortly after the Cuban Missle Crisis happened. He was frustrated with JFK’s policies in Cuba, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. Lee Harvey Oswald was simply in the wrong place and the wrong time. Being a Communist and living in the Soviet Union didn’t help matters.

  6. Wondered why the folks at MDN never listed to complaints about keeping the political crap out of their comments. Now it’s obvious – they’re batcrap stupid conservatives.

    Pretty much every point in the article has been disproved over an over again. What a shame to see this crap around here.

  7. It is interesting that the laffer idea that lower taxes increase government revenue is rejected by some 90%+ of economists, but accepted and the Lord’s truth by so many conservatives.

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