Hoover, FDR and Clinton Tax Increases: A Brief Historical Lesson

David Weinberger /

The obvious reason to prevent a tax hike by extending current tax rates is that doing so will prevent further economic harm to an already flat economy. How do we know that tax increases will cause economic harm? Three examples: 1932, 1937 and 1993.

After the 1929 stock market crash, the Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1930 raised import prices and more importantly threw a bucket of cold water on global trade flows, helping send the economy into deep depression. The economy had very little chance to recover. Along with gross and ongoing monetary policy mismanagement, President Hoover raised taxes in 1932. The consequences were devastating. As Alan Reynolds points out:

President Herbert Hoover asked for a temporary tax increase…in June 1932, raising the top income tax rate from 25% to 63% and quadrupling the lowest tax rate from 1.1% to 4%. That didn’t help confidence or the Treasury. Revenue from the individual income tax dropped from $834 million in 1931 to $427 million in 1932 and $353 million in 1933.