"Brazil has the highest tax-to-GDP rate in the Western Hemisphere and guess what — they're growing like crazy," Clinton said. "And the rich are getting richer, but they're pulling people out of poverty."
Both Clinton and Obama campaigned for president on promises to allow the Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans expire this year, a plan that is now part of Obama's budget. The move will effectively raise taxes sharply on people earning more than $250,000.
Hillery is clearly suggesting that Brazil's high tax rate is the reason that its economy is growing.
Brazil may have a high tax rate, but it also largely avoided the banking disaster that has put many other western nations on the brink of bankruptcy.
See: Lessons from Brazil: Why Is It Bouncing Back While Other Markets Stumble?
But all of Brazil's banks can be thankful that, to a large extent, they haven't had to deal with the toxic assets that crippled banks in developed countries. Unlike their counterparts elsewhere, Brazilian banks were not as exposed to the property sector and credit derivatives, and financial soundness indicators were robust coming into the crisis, according to Fabio Barbosa, head of Banco Santander Brasil and the Brazilian Federation of Banking Associations (Febraban). He cites the high capitalization requirement as a key reason for the sector's resilience -- the minimum capital adequacy requirement in Brazil is 11%, compared with 8% under the Basel regulations that other banks around the world follow. In December 2008, the average ratio for the sector in Brazil was 20%, and for the country's five largest banks (accounting for 67% of total assets) the ratio was 18.5%. He adds that Brazil also didn't have a shadow financial system, like in the U.S., thanks to tight regulatory and supervisory oversight. All financial institutions (including investment banks) are under the watch of the Central Bank.
One of Brazil's biggest advantages is that it did not have a Barney Frank or a Chris Dodd plundering it's banking system to redistribute wealth.
Comparatively, with the rest of the western world seeing their future play out for them in the street riots of Greece, Brazil is doing pretty good. It could do even better.
High tax rates reduce the private sectors ability to raise money for new projects, new ideas, new services, and new businesses. If Brazil were to reduce its tax rake to a lower level, productivity in their private sector would likely increase, which ironically enough, would also increase the amount of tax revenue that the government would be able to take in. Increasing the opportunity for the private sector to make money also increases the potential amount of taxable revenue that can be collected.
Conversely, if Brazil were to increase its tax rake even more than it is at present, it could expect to see an eventual decline in private sector productivity. Lower profits would reduce the amount of taxable revenue that the government could then skim out the publics pockets.
There is a point at which the tax rates can be raised high enough that the result would be reduced tax revenue to the Government. Right now, Brazil is in a boom period. They are making money. The high tax rate is not the reason that they are making money. It is just a factor that businesses in Brazil have to deal with, a hindrance that they have to overcome, a red-line that they have to pay for in their books.
In time, as their economy matures, that high tax rate of theirs will become more of a problem. Their politicians will either have the wit and the will to lower their tax rates which will increase profits and tax collections, or they will squeeze the public even harder with even higher taxes, which will reduce profits and reduce tax collections.
But to think that Brazil has somehow managed to tax itself into prosperity . . . is nuts.