Issues & Insights

Supply-Side Shultz

White House Photographic Collection

Excerpt provided by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity. Sign up to receive a free subscription to the full weekday Unleash Prosperity Hotline newsletter by clicking here: https://committeetounleashprosperity.com/hotline/

George Shultz, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state and whose diplomacy helped bring about the end of the Cold War, died on Saturday.

A former dean of the University of Chicago’s business school, he had to spar with unions as Richard Nixon’s secretary of labor. A colleague of Milton Friedman, he was a strong free marketeer. The experience of being present when Nixon imposed disastrous wage and price controls in 1971 made him even more of one.

In a series of interviews for the great PBS documentary “Commanding Heights,” Shultz made clear how important Reagan’s economic policies were in restoring the economy. “The economy was basically going nowhere and had inflation,” he recalled. “It was a consequence of not paying enough attention to the supply side of the economy; that is, to freeing people up to react to markets and to engage in their entrepreneurial activities.”

In his last years, Shultz became enamored of a carbon tax that would have distorted the markets he so cherished. But he remained a staunch supporter of supply-side economics, telling one of us in a 2016 interview that “the best stimulus of an ailing economy is almost always to reduce the tax and regulatory burdens weighing it down.”

CTUP co-founder Dr. Art Laffer, who worked for Shultz in the Nixon White House says: “There are three men I’d most admired and loved in my life personally, Justin Dart, my father and former secretary of state, George Schultz.”

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