STORM LAKE, Iowa — For days, Newt Gingrich has been barnstorming Iowa, telling voters he is going to be endorsed by Art Laffer. The response? Blank stares. Silence. Art who?
Gingrich, assuming Iowans in pizza parlors and coffee shops are as fluent in Washington names as he is, doesn’t always explain that Laffer was an economic advisor to President Reagan and prominent exponent of supply-side economics, the theory that cutting regulations and taxes will stimulate growth. He is also the father of the Laffer Curve, which seeks to illustrate which tax rates generate the most revenue. Laffer famously sketched the curve for the first time on a napkin in 1974.
Today, the man himself stepped forward to introduce Gingrich to about 120 voters in a hotel function room, in a moment the Gingrich campaign hopes will bolster the candidate’s economic credentials and give him a bit of the Reagan luster. Laffer got a smattering of applause as he took the stage and ran through his long resume as an economist.
“You may know my role with Ronald Reagan,’’ he said. “Some people even attributed his tax cuts to me.’’
Laffer said he is backing Gingrich because he believes the former House speaker best understands “Reagan economics, Jack Kemp economics, the economics we did in the 1980s.’’
“This man does understand, fundamentally and deeply, that if you tax people who work, and you pay people who don’t work, don’t be surprised if you find a lot of people not working,’’ Laffer said. “I have never heard of a poor person spending himself or herself into prosperity. It doesn’t work.’’
Laffer added that he looked at all the candidates, but decided that “Newt Gingrich is far and away the best person to bring this country back into prosperity. Period… He has the experience to deliver.’’
Gingrich, who has known Laffer since the 1970s, said he was proud to accept the endorsement.
“My basic message for the next six days is simple: if you want jobs and economic growth, I know how to do it,’’ Gingrich said. “People who were there with me doing it, like Art Laffer, agree that I know how to do it. This is not a time to send an amateur to Washington.’’