Live from Music Row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed renowned American economist Art Laffer to the newsmakers line to talk about his efforts in Nashville and his upcoming debate at MTSU with Leslie Marshall.
Leahy: We’re joined now by one of the greatest economists in modern American history, Art Laffer who lives in Nashville and moved here from LA about 20 years ago. Tonight he will be featured at the Campus Liberty Tour and the topic of the one-and-a-half hour tour – with a discussion with Leslie Marshall – on this question: Will a wealth tax in higher income tax rates increase prosperity and opportunity in America?
Welcome, Art Laffer, to the Tennessee Star Report.
Laffer: Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure. I love the Tennessee Star, it’s a great name.
Leahy: (Laughs) Well, we are delighted to have you here in Tennessee. So tell us about this event tonight. It’s sponsored by the Steamboat Institute. Will this be a live event at Middle Tennessee State University or a virtual event beginning at 6 pm?
Laffer: I’ll try to make it lively. And I’ll try to make it live as well. It’s going to be a live event. They wanted to hold it in Colorado, but you can’t do it in Colorado. You can’t do it in California. And nicely Tennessee does allow people to still get together even if socially distanced and all that, and so that’s why we’re having it here. But it will be live.
Leahy: Well, we will send a reporter there. So you’ll be there in person with Leslie Marshall. It seems kind of to me Professor Laffer like an unfair fight. She’s a nice person, but I’ve listened to her before. I think this topic your kind of the worldwide expert on it. Right?
Laffer: Well, I don’t know about that. But thank you very much. But I hope it’s not a hostile thing at all. In fact, I’m sure it will not. But she’s a wonderful person. She’s very articulate. She’s got a radio show host. She’s sort of the Rush Limbaugh of higher taxes in her talk show, and she’s a very nice person. And I hope it’s just a very good discovering conversation where we lay out all the different issues and I’ll let you guys decide what you think is best.
Carmicheal: Mike, Art Laffer moved here and did two things as a civilian. He is the person most responsible for doing away with the estate tax and doing away with the hall tax. And doing one of those two taxes have done more to benefit Tennessee than probably any other two pieces of legislation. Beth Harwell was the person probably most responsible as a legislator. But Art Laffer convinced Governor Haslam in I think his first year to do away with the estate tax. And then later to do away with the hall tax.
Leahy: Well, Art Laffer thank you for that.
Laffer: Well, thank you very much. It’s my pleasure. You’re giving me a lot of credit and thank you for that. But I’m not sure I deserve it. But you know, we had that in California as well with Prop-13, which I was in very involved with there. We have one left to do here in Tennessee. By the way, we need to cap property tax rates. We’re one of four states that does not have a property tax rate cap. And we should have won here in the state. I think it makes lots of sense, and when you look at what happened with Nashville on trying to raise property taxes what by 32 percent? I mean that just should not be allowed.
Carmichael: Well Art the with this proposition that Jim Roberts is behind it will do exactly what you’re saying at least for Davidson County if the voters vote to repeal the 34th.
Laffer: That would be Wonderful. I’m a hundred percent with the voter repeal. I’m that but I also would like to see a Statewide legislative one. If you look at where in our state the highest property taxes are they are about double in Memphis than they are in Nashville and other places in the state. Which means if you look at the one area of Tennessee, that’s not prospering it’s of course Memphis. And all those high property taxes are driving people out. We need to make it a level playing field so people can prosper everywhere. So it’s not just one area. It really needs to be broad-based. And I am totally in favor of the repeal here totally, but I also want to put a ceiling on property tax rates for the whole state.
Leahy: Art Laffer, are you working with anyone present in the Tennessee General Assembly to put legislation together to put a ceiling on property tax statewide?
Laffer: Well, I’m working on trying to get the governor to back this idea and to support it fully. You know without the governor’s support it really would be very difficult legislatively to get this through. I mean, we do have a supermajority of Republicans, but it’s not a Republican-Democrat issue. In California was done under a Democratic governor with Prop 13, and he supported it very nicely. Here it should be bipartisan. It’s just prosperity for all of us. And I’d love to get the governor on board first before we really go into the legislative process.
Leahy: That makes a lot of sense. Now you moved here from California. Was it 20 years ago? How long ago did you move here?
Laffer: 14 years ago. I mean lucky lucky decision. I did my analysis. I’d never been here. I thought I knew what was here in Tennessee and of all the things I thought were here were here and then I found out these are really nice people. It’s a great place to live in addition to low taxes. So it was a win-win-win for me all the way around. I love it here.
Leahy: A lot of people are moving from California to Tennessee. I don’t you follow the latest Ben Shapiro and the Daily Wire announced last month that they are moving to Nashville from Los Angeles and we’re going to have a little party for them sometime in November. We’re going to invite you to attend that party if you’d like to.
Laffer: I would love to come. I mean, I’m an older person. I’m not a really wild and crazy party-goer but I’d love to come.
Leahy: So for people that are going to this event at Middle Tennessee State University tonight it begins at six o’clock. It will be you versus Leslie. Very nice person Democratic strategist.
Laffer: She’s great.
Leahy: The topic is will a wealth tax and higher income tax rates increased prosperity and opportunities in America? It will be live and how big is the forum there?
Laffer: I think it’s about a hundred people fifty to a hundred people. Because you know, you’ve got to have all these people distanced and all the rules still at the universities and that which makes a lot of sense. But Leslie and I will be on the podium. They’ll be two other people on the podium. A moderator and also the person who’s sponsoring the event the head of the Steamboat Institute in Colorado will be also on the podium. And that’ll be just it. But it will be broadcast live everywhere. And it’s a live debate and a live discussion I like to say. But a live debate or discussion, whatever you prefer.
Leahy: And we’ll report on it as well.
Carmichael: What’s the outlined address?
Leahy: SteamboatInstitute.org. You can just click on there and you can go to the event. It’s featured there. Art Laffer, will you come back to the Tennessee Star Report?
Laffer: I would love to come back, and it’s such a pleasure being with you.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Art Laffer” by The White House. Background Photo “Nashville” by Derrick Brutel CC BY-SA 2.0.