Jerry Brown had fantastic economic policy, Laffer said. “He did a great job implementing Proposition 13. He indexed personal income tax in the state; put in Gann spending limit under his tenure; and killed the estate tax. He was one of the best governors California ever had.”
Of Brown’s presidential run for the Democratic nomination Laffer said “he was the first presidential candidate to campaign on getting rid of the federal income tax.” Jerry Brown advocated for a flat tax when he ran against Clinton, an idea credited to Laffer.
The Pacific Research Institute is a non-partisan think-tank (I am a policy fellow there) but the audience and support base, which leans right, was taken aback by Laffer’s assertion. The audience jeered a bit. But one attendee, Orange County resident Diane Lyons said that Laffer’s endorsement made her feel “a little bit better about having Jerry Brown as governor again.”
Laffer was using Brown as an example to make the greater point that “good economics is not Republican or Democrat; not conservative and not liberal. It is economics.” And good economic policy is good economic policy whether it is Jerry Brown or Ronald Reagan implementing it.
It is somewhat precurious that Laffer, a close advisor to Reagan, would not have name Reagan as the best governor in California instead of Brown. But in Laffer’s defense, Ronald Reagan was a much more memorable president than he was governor.