JFK and the Reagan Revolution: A Secret History of American Prosperity, by Lawrence Kudlow and Brian Domitrovic (Portfolio, 256 pp., $29)
Four decades ago, Larry Kudlow was part of a cabal that began thinking about tax policy not from the demand side — where the government gives people back a little of their own money for a bit so they spend more — but from the perspective that any tax changes should boost the incentives for people to work and firms to invest, and thereby stimulate output and em-ployment. The movement these people begat came to be known as supply-side economics.
In the 1970s, the tax code strongly deterred entrepreneurship and work. The corporate tax rate was 48 percent and the top rate on small businesses and workers was 70 percent. In his fascinating biography of Johnny Carson, Henry Bushkin reported that Carson hired him as his agent partly because — after federal, state, and New York City taxes, combined with his previous agent’s 10 percent commission — it wasn’t clear that Carson was seeing anything from his salary, and Carson wanted Bushkin to do something about it.