Recently, YAF convened three of America’s greatest and happiest conservative leaders—Senator Marsha Blackburn, Dr. Art Laffer, and Andy Puzder—in Nashville, Tennessee, for a chat about how they came to be inseparable friends and how free markets unlocked opportunity in their own lives.
BLACKBURN: Hello, all of you YAFers and Ronald Reagan supporters! What fun for me, sitting down with two people who are really true happy-warriors when it comes to our nation’s economic health. And here’s a little factoid for you: Art Laffer and I have quite a history, a long history when it comes to making certain that we’re working for you the taxpayer and keeping more of your money in your pocket.
Here in Tennessee, back around 2000, we had this debate over whether or not to have a state income tax and we got some outside help from some mighty good economists, one of which was Art Laffer. He has since moved to Tennessee and has really weighed in on making changes in the tax structure of our state and being helpful to us, just like he was with President Reagan and the Laffer Curve, and also with President Trump and the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act.
LAFFER: Great to be in Tennessee. I hope I’m not going over anyone’s head, but if you have two locations—A and B—and you raise taxes in B and you lower them in A, producers and manufacturers and people like me move from B to A. I moved from California right after they raised the taxes, and came here to Tennessee. I’ve never been happier, until a couple of years ago when we finally got the single best senator the United States has ever, ever had—my Marsha Blackburn. Now, we lost the single best house member we’ve ever, ever had. But we got the best senator.
BLACKBURN: I’ll take it. Of course one of the reasons that people come to Tennessee—and one of the reasons that Andy decided to move Carl’s Jr. from California to Tennessee—was because of the environment for doing business.
PUZDER: It was the environment. I was looking for a state to move to. I knew we had to leave California. California has these ridiculous—apart from being the highest personal income tax state—it’s got these ridiculous labor laws, they’ve got this Private Attorney General Act where anybody can sue to enforce that, it makes it impossible to do business there. We needed to leave. I was looking at Texas, I was looking at Florida, and then my buddy of many years Art Laffer said, ‘Hey, you’ve got to look at Tennessee, we’ve done a lot here in Tennessee, it’s very business-friendly.’
I flew here, I’d say my first four or five trips here the governor met with me four times. The California governor refused to meet with me when we were talking about moving the company. The business environment is very friendly. We don’t have the ridiculous laws that we have in California, we don’t have the terrible class-action lawsuits, and of course thanks to both of you we don’t have the terrible tax burden that you have living in a state like California. Of course, it’s worse now with the SALT deduction being gone, it’s now a 13% tax in California—it’s actually a 13% tax—it’s not something where you get to reduce your federal taxes. It’s been a really positive move, I’m thankful to Art and I’m thankful to Marsha—We met back in 2012.
BLACKBURN: That’s right. When I was chairing the platform committee and you were one of our subcommittee chairs.
LAFFER: Ask him how he met me, Marsha.
BLACKBURN: [laughter] I don’t want to know that story.
PUZDER: It’s funny, there was a lawsuit. I was a lawyer in St. Louis—a trial lawyer—I represented the police retirement system and there was an investment advisory firm we were suing, and their expert witness was Art Laffer. So I said, ‘Well that’s kinda cool,’ so I went to California. I deposed Art, we started talking during the breaks, and that was probably 35 years ago and we’ve been friends ever since.
LAFFER: It was fun.
BLACKBURN: It goes to show that when you stand on your principles and you make friends of people that share those principles you’re going to have those good relationships.
Okay YAFers, here is a formula for you, you can take it to the bank: less taxation + less litigation + less regulation = more innovation and job creation. Never forget that.
LAFFER: That could be a rap song.
MARSHA: You write it. Andy will sing it. And I’ll watch.
PUZDER: If you could figure out how to add in a focus on domestic energy production and make it rhyme it’ll be perfect.
MARSHA: We’ll work on that. Bye, y’all!