This is delicious!
Back in 1981, when the recently elected President Ronald Reagan was pushing to lower income taxes, he said something that is really great to the Washington Post. Unfortunately, that particular article doesn’t seem to be online, so I’ve had to get it from The Christian Science Monitor, No “Voodoo” in Dole’s Tax Cut.
Are you ready, because this is really great. Wanna get a beer? Some popcorn? Okay, here we go:
There’s a serious part of the this, but let’s just bask in the glow of that false equivalence. The great Hollywood stars: Bogart, Gable, and… Reagan?! You gotta give it to the guy, he didn’t lack for confidence. Let’s see now: Bogart starred in Casablanca and The African Queen. I assume you’ve heard of those. Gable starred in the Oscar sweeping It Happened One Night (also one of my very favorite movies) and a little sleeper called Gone With the Wind. And Reagan starred in (well: co-starred in) Knute Rockne, All American and Bedtime for Bonzo. For the record, Bonzo Goes to College was far better, but Reagan wasn’t in it. Not that I’m implying anything!
But the truth is that the high tax rate was not actually limiting Bogart and Gable from making films. From 1936 onward, the top marginal tax rate was at least 9 percentage points higher than it was when Reagan was complaining about the tax rate in 1981. But Bogart wasn’t making two pictures per year. Of course, he really didn’t become a star until High Sierra in 1941. But from 1945 onward, when he was a big star and the top tax bracket was 90% or more, he made a lot of films. In 1953, with a tax rate of 92%, he made three big pictures: The Caine Mutiny, Sabrina, and The Barefoot Contessa.
Similarly, with Gable, who was a star much earlier, he made five films the year he won the Oscar for It Happened One Night. He only made two the year of Gone With the Wind, but that isn’t surprising since the principal photography for that one film took up over half the year. Regardless, you know that if it took Reagan two films to reach the 90% tax rate, that Bogart and Gable reached it in one film easily.
But if you look at stars today: Johnny Depp or George Clooney, they also make about two films per year. This is despite the much lower top marginal tax bracket and the much lower capital gains rate, which they get as being executive producers.
What’s especially interesting though, is that Reagan was lying about himself. Throughout the 1940s and early 1950s (after which he got into television), he made tons of movies. So I don’t even know what he’s talking about. Maybe the dementia was already strong in 1981.
Reagan went on to talk about how the fact that he wasn’t willing to make more movies meant that grips and other movie professionals were hurt. The idea I guess is that rather than find another actor, the studio would just not make a movie because people only wanted to see a chimp work with Ronald Reagan. The studios make what the studios make. If George Clooney dies tonight, Hollywood will make exactly the same number of pictures next year.
Anyway, I thought that quote was funny as hell and I had to share it. It is weird though, that conservatives always talk about how liberals don’t see the world as it is. But they just make up stories to prove their points. If we were to believe Reagan, To Have and Have Not never would have been made, because the top tax rate was 94%. What was Bogart thinking!