John W. Burns and Andrew J. Taylor, "The Mythical Causes
of the Republican Supply-Side Economics Revolution,"
Party Politics, 6 (October 2000), 419-440.
Before 1977, the national Republican Party was generally
ambivalent about federal individual income tax policy.
Revisions to extant policy passed by the US Congress were
Democratically initiated, Keynesian-style tax cuts that
targeted the benefits of tax reduction to lower-income
Americans (Witte, 1985: 165--79, 190--204; Pollack, 1996:
78--86).' A number of significant pieces of such legislation
were passed during the Nixon and Ford years, including the
tax reduction bills of 1969, 1971, 1975 (two bills), 1976
and early 1977. Republicans were usually split on these
initiatives, with many arguing that such cuts would fuel
inflation and exacerbate the deficit, and others taking
President Nixon to heart when, in 1971, he observed that 'we
are all Keynesians now' (quoted in Hall, 1989).
Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Determinations of the congressional Republican vote
on four pieces of individual income tax legislation,
Table 2: The Republican mass and tax cuts, 1976-90
Figure 1: The percentage of the public saying their taxes
were 'too high', 1969-90
Table 3: The Wall Street Journal editorial page position on
taxes, 1969-89 (%)
Our main point remains, however. Currently, national
American parties are more centralized and their elites more
capable of policy initiation and leadership than
conventional wisdom suggests. The contemporary congressional
parties are already the subject of a compendium of
theoretical and empirical work that discusses their
ideological polarization and homogeneity and the rising
strength of formal leaders (Robde, 1991; Cox and McCubbins,
1993; Sinclair, 1995). For the most part, these
characteristics seem to have been generated endogenously.
National American parties are certainly distinctive from the
parties of parliamentary democracies or societies with sharp
class and ethnic cleavages, but our research shows them to
be hierarchical and cohesive enough to allow their leaders
to initiate the kind of doctrinal change that greatly
influences mass and local political behavior.