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By Larry Schweikart

Ever hear of the Great Depression of 1920? No, me either. Do you know why? Because the recession that began shortly after World War I ended never deepened and never became “great” (as though any depression is great). There is a history lesson in that story that our leadership in Washington should keep in mind today.

As the United States, and the world, came out of World War I, the economies of the warring powers had been cranked up to full production to meet wartime demands. Suddenly, in 1918, the Armistice was announced, and within a year, troops began returning to civilian life. The influx of millions of soldiers worldwide introduced sudden unemployment, and thousands of farmers came back to farms that were already at or near full capacity, causing farm prices to fall. In the United States, Woodrow Wilson’s hand-picked successor, James Cox, the newspaper magnate from Dayton, Ohio, ran on a platform of reducing America’s wartime debt through a policy of maintaining Wilson’s outrageously high wartime tax rates.

The Progressive President Wilson had been in office when the Income Tax Amendment was passed—a story in itself. While the goal of the Progressives who favored an income tax was first and foremost wealth redistribution (not raising money to run the government), the income tax itself was largely sold to the American people on two major positive features. First, its rates were (by current standards) ridiculously low. Most people paid no income taxes at all, the bottom bracket paid only about 1%, and the very richest Americans paid only 6% (today, many states have higher income tax rates than that!). As a Vegas comedian would say, “What’s not to like?”

But it only took Wilson a couple of years of war to jack up the top rates to an astounding 73% (near confiscation) and hike the bottom rate to 25%.

Now for a little sidebar: how often have you heard that “World War II got us out of the Great Depression?” Probably more times than you can count. What is often forgotten is that when your very survival is at stake, as it was from 1941 to 1945, people will submit to most anything—rationing, confiscatory tax rates, muzzling of civil liberties. This is laudable and natural. But it is wholly unnatural and oppressive for a government to seek to maintain wartime tax levels and intrusions on civil liberties in peacetime. Hence, to return to our story, Wilson “got away” with the outrageously high tax rates during the war because . . . it was a war! Once the threat was over, however, Americans expected their country back.

Cox’s opponent, Warren Harding, also of Ohio, ran on a platform of returning the country to its pre-war “normal” economy and freedoms. While he didn’t explicitly endorse a tax cut, voters rightly inferred that’s what he meant, and sent him to the White House instead of Cox. In perhaps his shrewdest move, Harding asked Pittsburgh millionaire Andrew Mellon to be the Secretary of the Treasury. When Mellon told him he “didn’t want the job,” Harding knew he had the right guy. Mellon finally gave in, and immediately studied the recession, which was severe.

Various estimates of the 1920-1921 recession suggest that Gross National Product fell anywhere from 2.4% to a whopping 6.9%. Estimates of unemployment put the rate at between 7% and 8%. Interestingly, while most economists correctly identify the issue of returning troops as a “shock,” few note that the extremely high tax rates dragged the economy down faster than “Bernie” behind the boat (reference to “Weekend at Bernies,” if you haven’t seen it).

Mellon performed a review of another phenomenon: even though Wilson’s boys consistently pushed up tax rates, the relative return from those rates fell steadily. Without knowing it, Mellon had come up with an early version of the “Laffer Curve,” which says that at a certain point, raising taxes will result in less revenue to government, because people will silently revolt and either cease work or go into the black market. Mellon convinced Harding to ask Congress for a radical tax cut. Of course, many in government opposed. In a stunner, the New York Times of 1909 had actually warned that “when men get in the habit of keeping themselves to the property of others, they cannot easily be cured of it.”[1] Harding died in office, but his successor, the great Calvin Coolidge, remained committed to steeply reducing tax rates. Mellon, Harding, and Coolidge succeeded in reducing the top rate from 73% to 25%, and the bottom rate from 25% to 5%. There are two observations one can make: a) that’s an astounding drop, and all three men are to be commended, and b) it was still many times higher than the pre-war rates!

Nevertheless, the economy quickly recovered. Unemployment rates fell, down to 5%, then 4%, then finally, in 1926, to 1.6% according to one study. Even more shocking, the share of taxes paid by the rich . . . skyrocketed. Those earning over $50,000 (a “supermillionaire” back then) had only paid 45% of the total taxes when the rates were sky-high, but after the Mellon cuts paid 62%. Those in the “Bill Gates” category of “so-rich-they-wouldn’t-pick-up-a-$100-bill-on-the-sidewalk” rich ($100,000 at the time), saw their share of taxes paid almost double, from 28% to 51%.

We call what happened next the “Roaring ‘20s,” because the economy absolutely went nuts. Average Americans came to own cars, radio, have appliances and the electricity to power them (electricity use rose by almost 300% between 1899 and 1929), telephones, and a myriad of other products once considered luxuries.[2] Ford’s Model T, once considered revolutionary for its low cost and simplicity, now was out; General Motors, with its different car line for every income class was in. And they say tax cuts don’t work? Tell that to the Americans of the Roaring ‘20s.”

Larry Schweikart

Professor of History, University of Dayton

co-author, A Patriot’s History of the United States


[1]. Quoted in Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore, and Peter J. Tanous, The End of Prosperity: How Higher Taxes Will Doom the Economy—If We Let It Happen (New York: Threshold, 2008), 49.

[2]. See Larry Schweikart and Lynne Pierson Doti, American Entrepreneur (New York: Amacom, 2009), ch. 9.

Many members of the far-left already are calling for a ‘Night of Rage’ after the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and the White House has been discussing plans to defy the ruling too. In fact, one idea floated by Biden Administration officials, according to the New York Times, includes providing abortions on military bases. So, will America experience another summer of riots? Are YOUR taxpayer dollars at risk? And what does this mean for deep-blue states? Josh Hammer, legal expert and opinion editor for Newsweek, joins Glenn to discuss what may come next...

Transcript

Below is a rush transcript that may contain errors

GLENN: Josh Hammer, he's the opinion editor of Newsweek. He's the host of the Josh Hammer show. He is really quite brilliant. One of the leading minds in the conservative movement, I think. Josh Hammer joins us now.

To tell us, what did you find in this decision?

JOSH: Glenn, great to be back with you, on such a momentous, and really such an emotional day, honestly. So, you know, look, as you said, this dropped recently. Funny enough, I was in the middle of getting a guest lecture from an organization on the advisory board as to when it drops. So I barely had any time to kind of skim through, let alone guess the concerning dissenting opinions. But it looks like this looks very similar, to the draft opinion that was leaked, by the Politico story, a month and a half ago, in early May. And I think those of us who were praying that the five justices from this leaked draft opinion, would have the fortitude to stiffen their spines against this unprecedented assault. Now knows that our prayers were answered, Glenn. That's really my takeaway right now.

This looks a lot like the leaked opinion. Justice Thomas and Justice Kavanaugh have some reconcurring opinions.

But unbelievable. And really just holding aside the constitutional law stuff for a second hear. Just speaking as pro-lifers, on a day like today, I think we really just need to pause. And I tweeted this out earlier. We need to just be grateful for our half century of pro-life activist forbearers. You know, this -- Glenn, this issue could have gone away after 1973. That was a long time ago. 1973. I mean, this issue could have just gone away. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the pro-life moral activist. Political activist. And, of course, yes. Legal activist. Who fought day in and day out, that makes sure this great injustice stayed front and center of our national, political conscience. And in many days, the culmination of a half century of fighting for truth and justice. But in many ways, it's also a new beginning for the pro-life fight as well, interestingly.

STU: How do you mean a new beginning for the fight? I just it's going to turn, I think we're going to see abortion turn even darker in those states that allow it. Is that -- is that what you're meaning by this?

JOSH: Well, look, for a half century now, Roe vs. Wade, and its project any, specifically, the Planned Parenthood versus Casey case of 1992.

They took away from the states obviously. They arrogated authority away from the states, the ability to attempt to nationally codify one view of the morality of abortion.

It happened to be a profoundly immoral view. So these -- the fight now shifts to the states. And the pro-life activists. And all the 50 states. Especially, obviously in red states. Purple states. I mean, admittedly some blue states like New York and California, probably won't be able to touch them there.

But we have to make sure that our side is well positioned in the state Capitols for every red, purplish, probably even light blue state, to make sure we fight for successful, cogent, and morally consistent pro-life legislation. The state of Oklahoma, actually, just north of Texas. Right where you are now, Glenn. They have been leading on this actually. Governor Kevin Stitt signed into law, a fantastic pro-life bill there in Oklahoma. A few weeks ago. Maybe a month ago or so at this point, that basically just bans abortion straightforward from conception. And there are some -- you know, obviously, likable the mother. So forth. But we really need to start thinking about trying to craft legislation now, at the state level. But to your point, I do fear that the blue states will only double down in their radicalism. Unfortunately within that will only lead to an ever greater divide, in our country, that we have today. But obviously, at the end of the day. We're going to save at the end of the day, millions and millions of unborn children. We are going to save human beings who can grow up to cure cancer, who can win Nobel prices.

I mean, this is just a tremendous win for the human species. I don't know how to say it other than that.

GLENN: I will tell you, I saw the stat, that I think it was last year or the year before. 20 percent of all pregnancies ended in abortion. 20 percent.

JOSH: Wow.

GLENN: That is -- that is a shocking number. And we do have our -- our work cut out for us. Because I -- I think that these states are going to double down. But I think, you know -- God doesn't waste anything. You know, there is no waste with God. Even the -- even the worst things that could possibly happen, turn out to be something good. You know what I mean? You're like, holy cow, how did that just happen.

And I think that evil is going to fully come unmasked. I'm telling you, Josh. I don't know how you feel about this. I think this could be the day of America's Kristallnacht. I can see these pro-life centers being burned to the ground today. They're calling for a night of rage around the country. I think evil is going to show itself. And that will scare the American people, hopefully.

JOSH: You know, I've been thinking about this a lot this week, actually. Because I've been bracing for a new kind of George Floyd summer of love, happening this summer. Coming to a city or suburb near you. Unfortunately, myself. Look, I live in Florida. I know, Glenn, you live in Texas. It is in moments like this, where I do think that where you live matters. And who your mayor is. Who your governor is, matters.

Because law and order and rioting and anarchy is not really a federal issue. It is to a limited extent. June 2020, Tom Cotton wrote this op-ed that was pretty controversial at the time.

I happen to agree with it. Where he said, quote, unquote, send in the troops. And there is some federal legislation from the reconstruction era that would justify that.

But most kind of quelling and quashing of anarchy does happen. Constitutionally speaking, at the state and local level. So at a moment like this, where I fear that you're probably not wrong. I take some solace. That Governor DeSantis is my governor. I think Texans should take some solace, that they are represented by -- by a Republican governor. The legislature there as well. So I -- I fear that you are right. I pray obviously, that no one -- it's hard.

I fear that it's something -- that something bad is happening. At the end of the day, of course. It does not mean that justices cannot do what they are supposed to do. So thank God they did that.

GLENN: So, Josh, have you looked into what the White House has been saying? The White House yesterday. In fact, do we have a clip of -- of this?

What the White House said yesterday, about the guns. And then they were turned to the -- the Scott us ruling, for Roe vs. Wade. Do we have that, please?

JOSH: Will the president accept this decision, even if he disagrees with it?

VOICE: I think it's going to come from the Supreme Court. So it's a decision we certainly are going to respond to. I'll leave it at that. Just like any other Supreme Court decision. Just like the one they did today on guns.

GLENN: So the White House won't say that they're going to accept it.

Which I don't think they will. They're talking now about taking doctors and moving them into places like Oklahoma or Texas, where abortions will be outlawed. And putting doctors on our military bases to perform abortions.

I mean, where does this go, when you have a government, that is in defiance of -- of one branch of the government?

JOSH: So there's a lot to unpack here. So we should start from first principles. The idea of judicial supremacy, and this is a peculiar thing, to say on a day like today, where such a pro-life victory has happened in Italy. But if we're going to be consistent here, the idea of judicial supremacy. The idea that the justices, have the sole and exclusive ability to interpret the Constitution for themselves. And no other Constitutional actor, in article one or article two, let alone the state. Has the ability to tentatively interpret it. That is erroneous. In fact, actually it was really Abraham Lincoln actually, who in the Dred Scott case, famously opposed judicial supremacy and flouted the Dred Scott ruling, at least as it pertains to everybody other than Dred Scott himself. I have actually argued, a former legal scholarship, in a law review article actually, that the Laconian view of how each branch of government should interpret the Constitution for itself, is correct.

Having said that. Having said that, there is a thing called prudence. And there is a thing called comedy. And in a moment like today, when it really does look like -- and I agree with you, that we are now bracing for riots through the streets. When the political rhetoric is at DEFCON one. When people are trying to assassinate Supreme Court justices. I think it would be -- at its bare minimum, a profoundly imprudent act. For the Biden administration, to try to undermine this ruling.

Now, what they might do, is they might try to kind of issue some kind of executive orders, or issue some regulations, that might try to kind of undermine it, at the edges here. But at the end of the day, the idea that this returns to the state. There's not really a whole lot they can do about that. Basically, at this point, throughout the country. Kentucky within West Virginia. Kansas. Whatever. If they want to go ahead and ban abortion, what can the Biden administration literally do about that? I mean, short of sending in the National Guard, to protect Planned Parenthood, if the state legislature of Kentucky goes ahead and bans it. There's not a whole lot they can do. And it's very difficult to envision a world, in which the Biden administration literally sends in troops to red states, to protect Planned Parenthood, if that state legislature goes ahead and bans it. So for practically speaking. This is a lot of tough talk and rhetoric. Obviously the campaign here in 2022. There's not really a whole lot that practically speaking, they can do to actually prevent red and purple states from enacting pro-life legislation.

GLENN: I'm glad to -- I'm glad to hear that. I know that they have been working on things. I mean, he has said, you know, there's executive orders, that I can employ. There are things that I can do. He's talked about a national public health emergency. Which I think is just -- is crazy. But I would hope, that the president would come out and say, we strongly disagree with this. And you're right. The court is not the end all. But the court did not end abortion. It just said, the people should decide. I think that's the best kind of court ruling, on any of it. The people should decide what this is. And send it back to the states. Josh, I thank you very much. Appreciate your time. Was there -- there was another ruling, that came out today. Was it important?

JOSH: Oh, no. In comparison to this. A total nothing burger. A 5-4 decision on Medicare reimbursement related. So nothing, honestly.

GLENN: Great. Thank you very much. Appreciate it, Josh. Josh Hammer, opinion editor for Newsweek. And the host of the Josh Hammer show.

GLENN: There are two things trending on twitter right now.

Number one is praise God.

Number two trend is Night of Rage.

Good verses evil.

Build up or tear down.

'Lord, we are SORRY it has taken us this long': BlazeTV hosts react to historic Roe v. Wade decision

Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Supreme Court of the United States officially overturned Roe V. Wade, and the debate over abortion rights has been given back to the states. On this historic day, BlazeTV hosts celebrate the Supreme Court's incredible decision and take a look at some of the insane reactions as the left comes completely undone.

Jason Whitlock: Today will forever stand as a pivotal moment in our nation’s history

The Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade. The decision and the reaction to it have already revealed a lot about our people and politics. Pro-life groups celebrate, pro-choice groups call for “a night of rage,” and Nancy Pelosi just seems completely confused by the United States Constitution.

Glenn Beck reacts LIVE to Roe v. Wade ruling: 'Lord, we are SORRY it has taken us this long'

I never thought that in my lifetime, I would see Roe v. Wade be overturned. But today, that day has come. The Supreme Court has voted 6 to 3 to return decisions about abortion to the states. But this fight isn't over. We are about to see good versus evil side by side. Many states will stand with the unborn. But others will become abortion mills. It's your turn to choose now, America!

Allie Beth Stuckey: 'Praise God, Roe v. Wade is overturned!'

I don't know about you, but I just had the most euphoric feelings. It almost seems too good to be true. I didn't think there was any way that this would actually happen, especially with all the backlash, intimidation, and violence toward the Supreme Court justices. And yet, here we are. Roe v. Wade has been overturned. This is an amazing day!

Dave Rubin: Big disagreement on what happens next now that Roe v. Wade is overturned

Dave Rubin, Libby Emmons, Jeffrey A. Tucker, and David Reaboi debate what will happen in the wake of the Supreme Court’s breaking decision on Roe v. Wade. Now that abortion rights have been pushed back to the states, will there be a summer of massive riots or not? Will the Roe v. Wade ruling make America’s political polarization significantly worse?

Stu Burguiere: Here are the reasons SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade

I never thought this would happen. I never thought I would see this day. I just never ever ever ever never ever believed that Roe v. Wade would actually be overturned. I really didn't. But let's take a look at the reasons this day has finally come ...

The Rick & Bubba Show: 'This is history! Unfortunately we're 60 million lives too late'

We were live on the air when news broke of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned its controversial 1973 Roe v. Wadeopinion, concluding that there is no constitutional right to an abortion.

"The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives," the syllabus of the decision reads.

As expected, the leftist outrage erupted instantaneously, fueled largely by the misinformed idea that overturning Roe v. Wade means abortion will be banned nationwide. But, as stated in the above-mentioned Supreme Court syllabus, the authority has actually been returned to individual states and their duly elected lawmakers.

One such misinformed leftist, Parkland shooting survivor Cameron Kasky, was infuriated that those awful Supreme Court justices "just voted to kill women." So he took to Twitter to urge people to go to the homes of said Supreme Court justices to "let them know how you feel."

"Go to the home of every Supreme Court justice who just voted to kill women. Let them know how you feel," Kasky tweeted.

The backlash was immediate:

Kasky decided to delete his original tweet because he is apparently "sick of republicans talking to [him]." But, unfortunately for Kasky, the internet is indeed forever:

Speaking from the White House, President Joe Biden dutifully helped spread the misinformation about the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and took the opportunity to prompt voters to elect more Democrats in November so that Congress can write abortion protections into law. Did the president just let slip the real reason Congress hasn't made any effort to start writing such laws in the nearly two months since Justice Samuel Alito's draft opinion was "leaked" in early May?

Watch Glenn Beck and producer Stu Burguere discuss how Biden's speech reveals that Democrats are absolutely terrified of the upcoming midterm elections. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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