I've been pondering this for a bit - wondering if anyone here has some insight.
It's no doubt that tax receipts in the 1980s soared under the Reagan administration. According to the Tax Policy center, adjusted for inflation, they rose from $599.1 billion in 1981 to $991.1 billion in 1989. That's a HUGE increase, and I've read Reagan supporters tout that information as justification for slashing the tax rate. (Requoted from the OMB here: http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?DocID=200&Topic...)
However, other decades in the 20th century demonstrated big gains, too. According to that same chart from the Tax Policy Center, receipts more than doubled in different decades with higher 1960-1970 (92.5-192.8 billion), 1970-1980 (192.8-517.1 billion) and 1990-2000 (1032-2025.2 billion). IIRC, each of this paragraph's decades had higher personal and corporate taxes than did the Reagan years; if that's true, then Reagan's tax strategy (lowering the tax rate/expunging loopholes) wasn't the only factor in the 1980's rise of tax receipts. Judging by the other decades, it almost seems like his policy had no effect - like the receipts would rise regardless of tax rates.
Look - I could post this on a left-wing blog and hear groans from the echo chamber, but I'm curious if there were other factors in the 1980s that made Reagan's tax policy the right one for the time. (Maybe if he didn't cut taxes in 1981, the gains wouldn't have happened? Was the 1981-1982 recession so bad that lowering the tax rate was necessary? etc.)
I haven't made up my mind on this issue yet - would love to hear any thoughts/input.