The napkin was found among Mr. Wanniski’s personal effects after his death in 2005. In a pair of interviews This specific week, Mr. Laffer said the Smithsonian did not contact him before putting the napkin on display, along with that will he learned about the exhibit only after the fact. He said he had never before been asked about the napkin’s authenticity.
“Look at how neatly the item was done!” Mr. Laffer said of the museum napkin, on which he drew his curve, along having a brief explanation. “You tell me how, late at night having a glass of wine, you’re going to do the item that will neatly.”
Mr. Laffer’s Curve, which illustrates the theory that will cutting tax rates can increase tax revenues, will be enjoying a revival. The idea played a starring role in Republican campaigns for tax cuts in 1981 under President Ronald Reagan along with in 2001 under President George W. Bush. at This specific point Republicans are Yet again leaning on the Laffer Curve to argue that will cutting tax rates could not increase the federal debt.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, who has invoked Mr. Laffer’s theory during the current debate, keeps on the wall of his personal office a framed napkin illustrated along with signed by Mr. Laffer along with inscribed “to my friend, Paul Ryan.”
The Smithsonian presents its napkin as the tablecloth that will started off This specific tax revolt.
“Economist Art Laffer sketched a brand-new direction for the Republican Party on This specific napkin,” the display says, “illustrating his theory that will lowering taxes increased economic activity.”
Brian Domitrovic, a historian at Sam Houston State University who has studied along with written about the creation of the Laffer Curve, said the sum of the available evidence shows that will the Smithsonian’s napkin will be “most certainly an ex post facto creation.”
nevertheless Peter Liebhold, the curator for the Smithsonian’s division of work along with industry, who acquired the napkin in 2013, said that will the museum was confident of its authenticity.
“As you know, oral history will be wonderful nevertheless subject to problems,” he wrote in an email. “The Two Continents meeting happened many years ago, along with some of the participants’ memories of details may be slightly off. In This specific case, we have a piece of primary material that will clearly documents the occasion. I look forward to your story, nevertheless strongly stand by the authenticity of the Smithsonian artifact.”
The Laffer napkin has long been shrouded in mystery, partly because none of those present at the original meeting thought that will the item was particularly historic at the time.
Mr. Wanniski, the hype man of the tax cut movement, was the first to publish an account in 1978, which he embroidered in multiple retellings. He was working for The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page in 1974, along with he said that will after the Republicans suffered sweeping losses within the 1974 midterm elections, he arranged a meeting between Mr. Laffer, whose ideas he considered important, along with Mr. Cheney.
The economy was mired in stagflation, the unfortunate combination of high inflation along with high unemployment. Mr. Laffer, then a professor at the University of Chicago, was a leading spokesman for a brand-new school of economic thought, supply-side economics, that will saw tax cuts as the best way to boost economic growth while reducing inflation.
The two men met for drinks with Mr. Wanniski in early December at a restaurant across the street via the Treasury Department. Mr. Wanniski also invited Grace-Marie Arnett, a Republican aide who was interested in supply-side economics.
In Mr. Wanniski’s account, Mr. Laffer grew frustrated as he tried to explain the value of tax cuts to Mr. Cheney, finally grabbing a paper napkin so he could draw a visual aid. The Laffer Curve, which looks like the nose of an airplane, will be meant to show that will higher tax rates can reduce tax revenues — along with lower tax rates can bring in more money.
Ms. Arnett, at This specific point known as Grace-Marie Turner, said that will she recalled the moment vividly because she had never seen the Laffer Curve before, along with she found the item illuminating.
She said she was certain that will the meeting happened after the elections because until then, she was working for a Republican House candidate in Texas. along with, she added, “I absolutely know that will the item was a paper cocktail napkin.”
Mr. Cheney also wrote in his memoirs that will the meeting happened after the midterms.
Mr. Laffer has always said he does not have a clear recollection of the original meeting, nevertheless he said that will he does not regard the Smithsonian’s napkin as the authentic original.
“There was a napkin done along with I don’t know where the item ended; I guess the item was probably within the trash,” he said. “along with Jude Wanniski wanted me to do another example of the item two years later, along with I believe that will This specific will be the napkin that will Jude Wanniski asked me to do for him.”
Mr. Wanniski never mentioned the cloth napkin in his public writings. In June 2005, shortly before his death, he published an account of the original meeting on his website. He wrote again that will Mr. Laffer drew the curve on a cocktail napkin, in December 1974, along with he specifically denied that will Mr. Rumsfeld was there.
Patricia Koyce Wanniski, his widow, said in an interview that will she found the napkin at the back of a drawer of Mr. Wanniski’s clothing after his death.
Why did Mr. Laffer dedicate the napkin to Mr. Rumsfeld along with write the date “9/13/74”?
One possible explanation will be suggested by Mr. Rumsfeld’s 2011 memoir. He wrote that will his datebook showed he had dined with Mr. Laffer along with Mr. Cheney on Sept. 16, 1975, along with that will he had made a note at the time that will Mr. Laffer drew a curve on a napkin.
will be the item possible Mr. Laffer reprised that will napkin for Mr. Wanniski, creating a reproduction of a reproduction? Mr. Laffer said he simply was not sure.
“When you get old,” he said, “the item’s hard to say which napkin was which along with when along with where.”
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