Why Evidence Doesn't Matter to Liberals Enchanted by a Vision

Why Evidence Doesn't Matter to Liberals Enchanted by a Vision

We all know evidence is mounting of ObamaCare’s massive failures.  None of the promises used to sell this huge new social policy are being borne out by the results we are seeing.  

It was claimed ObamaCare would bend the cost curve downward, that families would be paying LESS for their health insurance, not thousands of dollars more.  It was claimed nobody would lose their plan if they wanted to keep their plan, and so on.  

To understand why recent evidence doesn’t matter to Liberals about present social policy, it helps to study why past evidence didn’t matter all that much either.  The self-anointed with a vision of how society should be have a way of approaching evidence that demonstrates their vision is false and unworkable.  

A good case study of this is how Liberals will still dispute facts from the Reagan administration that are really beyond dispute. 


In Chapter Four of his book, The Vision of the Anointed, Professor Thomas Sowell discusses ‘The Irrelevance of Evidence’, or why a Liberal can stare facts against his theory/policy right in the face and completely discount it.  In this chapter Sowell notes the special interest Liberals have displayed in trying to rewrite the actual history of the Reagan administration.  

For 20 years it’s been taken as an article of faith on the Left that ‘Reagan’s tax cuts caused massive deficits’.  I’m sure many of you have heard that particular falsehood numerous times.  

Here’s what so interesting about this claim and it’s absurd longevity:  it’s probably the most EASILY refuted falsehood about Reagan’s presidency.  Once a person looks at the the yearly tax revenues during all 8 years of Reagan’s terms, only counting evidence as IRRELEVANT could explain why a person would continue to make this claim.  

Here’s the numbers.  As you read them, remember what the claim is: Reagan’s tax cuts caused a BIG DROP in tax revenues that resulted in massive deficits.  

[All numbers are in billions]

 1981     $599        $82      $678     $ —      $79      $ —  
 1982       618          19      746         68      128        49  
 1983       601         -17        808         62      208        80  
 1984       666          48      851        43      185       -23  
 1985       734          68      946         95      212         27  
 1986       769          35       990         44      212         0  
 1987       854          85       1,004         14      149       -63  
 1988       909          55       1,064         60      155          6  

Source: Budget of the United States Government: Historical Tables (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1994), p. 14 (Rounding causes some deficit numbers to be off by one).

As Sowell explains: 

“The year before Ronald Reagan became President, the federal government took in $517 billion in tax revenues, which was the all-time high up to that point.

Contrary to the notion that deficits have resulted from reduced tax receipts by the federal government, those receipts in fact reached record highs during the Reagan administration.  Every year of the administration saw the federal government collect more money than in any year of any previous administration in history.  By the last year of the Reagan administration in 1988, the federal government collected over $391 billion more than during any year of the Carter administration – in percentage terms, the government took in 76% more that year than it had ever collected in any year of any other administration.  The idea that tax cuts – for the rich or otherwise – were responsible for the deficit flies in the face of these easily obtainable numbers.  Spending increases simply outstripped the rising volume of tax receipts, even though hundreds of billions  of dollars more were pouring into Washington than ever before.  But of course there is no amount of money that cannot be overspent.” 

Yet the claim kept surfacing for over the past two decades: Reagan’s tax cuts caused massive deficits when federal tax revenues declined as a result of them.  Spending is what caused the deficits, so if you want to know who to blame for them, looking at who kept increasing the government’s spending each year would be a more fruitful line of inquiry.  

Reagan cut the top tax rate down to 28% from 70%. Liberals claimed this would have TWO specific results: 

  • Tax revenues would decline, leading to deficits and
  • The rich would end up paying less in taxes. 

Neither claim happened.   They were wrong. 

Personal Income Tax Revenues Collected Didn’t Decline After The Rates Were Cut – They Increased!

After an initial drop from 1982-84, by 1988 federal revenue from income taxes had increased almost 25% what it was when Reagan’s term started.    


Government let people keep more of their money, and they responded by investing & spending it themselves in ways that boosted the economy, causing incomes to rise.  Even at the lower tax rates, people were generating more money, resulting in the government collecting more in taxes rather than less.  

This of course flies directly in the face of Liberal understanding of economics, where it’s RAISING taxes and spending in Washington that causes economic prosperity.  Cutting tax rates puts LESS money in the hands of government, which in the Liberal mind is always a very bad thing.  

“Tax Cuts For The Rich”

What about the claim Reagan’s tax cuts benefited the rich since they’d end up paying LESS in taxes? 

Again: no truth to it whatsoever: 


So no, the rich DIDN’T end up paying less in taxes due to Reagan cutting their tax rates.  They paid more, and were carrying around 8% more of the total income tax burden when Reagan left office.  The money they got to keep from Reagan slashing their income tax burden from 70% to 28%, they put it to work in the economy, made huge gains in their wealth, and as a result, ended up INCREASING the amount of taxes they were paying.   


Now, remember: Liberals have been confidently making these claims for 20+ years.  The actual facts are readily available.  They aren’t hidden somewhere where only a few people can look at them. 

We are now going to spend the next few years watching the same Liberals faced with direct evidence of ObamaCare’s failures turn around and make same sort of claims.  No matter what the evidence shows, or how many times you show it to them, they will continue to make the same false claims.  

This demonstrates the biggest problem with Liberals isn’t KNOWING what the evidence shows.  Instead, the problem is that their vested interest in a false vision compels Liberals to discount each and every fact that would destroy that vision.  This compulsion causes them to look backwards & rewrite the history of Reagan’s tax cuts, and at present it causes them to literally close their minds to any negative results coming in as ObamaCare is implemented.  They have a compulsion to deny facts because it would hinder The Glorious Cause of the Left, whatever that may be at the moment, whether fighting for higher taxes & against tax cuts or for government-run health care.  

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