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Opinion

Debt talks and tax cuts: Save young Americans from slavery

Young Americans like me can't 'win the future' saddled with debt. But there's a formula that works. Reagan cut taxes and the US saw economic growth, lower unemployment, and higher revenues. Let's do that again.

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In Greece, the pro-austerity economists in the Greek government and EU authorities fell significantly short of meeting their 2010 deficit projections. The Wall Street Journal reported that this spring that, “[l]ower-than-expected government revenue was the main culprit behind the higher deficit number.”

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Europe is learning the hard way that raising taxes on the wealthy during economic crises kills economic growth and incentivizes tax evasion – making the debt crisis even worse. America should learn from Europe’s mistakes and take raising taxes off the table.

In fact, America needs tax cuts to enable employers to add jobs (especially for young people), stimulate investment, and jump-start the country’s revenue engine.

Cutting taxes works. Look at US history.

Cutting taxes in an economic downturn works. The last four presidents to cut taxes in response to a recession – Presidents George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, and Calvin Coolidge – saw economic growth, lower unemployment, and higher revenues during the four years following the cuts.

In contrast, the last three presidents to raise taxes on the wealthy during economic troubles – George H. W. Bush, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt – saw the country spiral into recessions (or a depression in Hoover’s case) after their tax hikes.

On Aug. 13, Young America’s Foundation will celebrate the 30th anniversary of President Reagan signing the largest tax cut in American history into law at the location where he signed the bill, Rancho Del Cielo in Santa Barbara, Calif. Young people could find newfound reason for celebration if our policy leaders in Washington would learn from Reagan’s accomplishments.

After the Reagan cuts, America experienced its longest sustained period of economic growth ever, and youth unemployment (ages 16 to 24) dropped nearly five points in four years (1982 to 1986). And, even though deficits rose because of defense and domestic entitlement spending, revenues increased.

To cut the deficit, our leaders can use what worked for Reagan. He cut taxes for employers during tough economic times (though he raised payroll taxes during more prosperous times). And our leaders can trim where spending grew under Reagan (domestic entitlements and defense spending). With this formula, America can both spur revenues and cut spending – all while growing the economy.

America’s leaders can choose to follow Hoover and Europe into an economic abyss, or they can find the youthful courage to buck conventional thought and embrace what’s worked for the last 100 years. We need tax cuts to free America’s young people from joblessness and the shackles of our growing debt.

Ron Meyer is a program officer for Young America’s Foundation (YAF). YAF introduces young people to conservatism through lectures and conferences across the country, and owns the Reagan Ranch in Santa Barbara, Calif. Ron has appeared on Fox News and been published in The Christian Science Monitor, Yahoo! News, AOL News, Human Events, and the Daily Caller.

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