The Presidential Medal of Freedom is supposed to be a unique American honor. Today, its value will be diminished when Donald Trump awards it to Art Laffer.
Laffer helped popularize the notion that tax cuts pay for themselves through faster economic growth. It almost never works out in practice. But Laffer and his namesake curve remain darlings of Republican politicians.
On Wednesday, Laffer will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian honor -- from President Trump.
You'll probably see reports today that describe Laffer as the "godfather" of supply-side economics, though that isn't quite right. Others promoted the idea that tax cuts pay for themselves before him, but Laffer famously sketched out the idea on a cocktail napkin for Dick Cheney in 1974, and soon after, the "Laffer Curve" was born.
The nation's finances have never been the same.
As Slate's Jordan Weissmann recently put it, "There may be no man alive who has done more damage to America's understanding of economics than Art Laffer. So, of course, Donald Trump is now awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom."
Laffer spent much of the spring peddling the idea that the Great Recession, which began in December 2007, should be blamed on President Barack Obama, who took office in January 2009. (He also predicted a decade ago that Obama's plan would "destroy the economy." Instead, it rescued the country from the Great Recession and initiated a recovery that's still ongoing.)
More recently, as regular readers may recall, Laffer served as the architect of then-Gov. Sam Brownback's (R) failed right-wing economic experiment in Kansas, which destroyed state finances and did little to improve the state's economy. Laffer vowed that Brownback's plan would generate "enormous prosperity," which is largely the opposite of what actually happened.
When the GOP governor's agenda failed to deliver on any of the expected results, Laffer was pressed for an explanation. "Kansas is doing fine," he boasted.
Kansas was not doing fine.