Last year, famed Republican economist Art Laffer co-authored a hagiographic tribute to President Trump and his agenda. Trump habitually bestows his most slavish supporters with pardons or — in the event they have not been convicted of any federal crimes — awards. Laffer accordingly will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom today.

But Laffer’s place of honor within his party was settled long ago. In 1974, he and Jude Wanniski, then a Wall Street Journal editorial writer, began proselytizing among Republicans for a new theory the two had worked out together. The breakthrough moment, at least according to legend, came when Laffer scrawled a curve on a cocktail napkin for Dick Cheney. The Laffer curve, as it came to be known, showed that the tax rate at the bottom, zero percent, and the top, 100 percent, both yielded identical revenue of zero. The curve connecting these numbers indicated that a lower tax rate could produce higher revenue.

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