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Jude Thaddeus Wanniski (June 17, 1936, Pottsville, PennsylvaniamarkerAugust 29, 2005, Morristown, New Jerseymarker) was an American journalist, conservative commentator, and political economist. He is perhaps best known as the associate editor of The Wall Street Journal from 1972 to 1978. In 1976 Wanniski coined the term supply-side economics to distinguish the revival in classical economic thought from the more dominant "demand-side" Keynesian and monetarist theories.

His 1978 book, The Way The World Works, initiated a revival in classical economics and was named one of the 100 most influential books of the 20th century by National Review magazine. It documented his theory that the U.S. Senate's floor votes on the Smoot-Hawley tariff legislation coincided day-to-day with the Wall Street stock market Crash of 1929. Wanniski consistently advocated the reduction of trade barriers, the elimination of capital gains taxes, and a return to the gold standard. He was also instrumental in popularlizing the ideas of lower tax rates embodied in the "Laffer Curve," and was present in 1974 when Arthur Laffer drew the curve on the famous napkin for Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

Conservative commentator Robert D. Novak stated, in writing the introduction to the 20th anniversary edition of Wanniski's book, that it was one of two books that have "shaped [his] mature philosophy of politics and government." (Whittaker Chambers' Witness is the other.) The rising GOP star Jack Kemp became a supply-side economics advocate due to Wanniski's tutelage, and would work to put his proposals into legislative practice.

He was an adviser to Ronald Reagan from 1978 to 1981, and designed the Reagan tax cuts during his first term in office.

In 1978 Wanniski started Polyconomics economic forecasting firm, a business focused on providing investment advice based on political and economic analysis. In 1997 Jude Wanniski founded the online learning center known as the “Supply-Side University”. Although Polyconomics as a corporation ceased operations on June 30, 2006, ten months after Wanniski's death, the name (a combination of 'politics' and economics') lives on at The Polyconomics Institute, where one can find the Wanniski's collected works for Polyconomics, as well as correspondence with economic policy makers, lectures, and, of course, Supply-side University.

In 1998, Wanniski attempted to foster dialogue between Louis Farrakhan and those who had labeled him anti-Semitic. He arranged for Farrakhan to be interviewed by reporter Jeffrey Goldberg who had written for the Jewish weekly The Forward and the New York Times. Since the extensive interview was never published in either publication, Wanniski decided to post the transcript on his website in the context of a memo to Senator Joseph Lieberman.

Wanniski is also credited with the development of the Two Santa Claus Theory in 1974.

Over the years, Wanniski has repeatedly emphasized high tax rates as the cause of poverty in Africa. Wanniski collected details about the tax structures of various countries in Africa, and explained how this was limiting the progress of the poor. These observations ended up as part of an episode of The West Wing.

Wanniski is also notable for his journalism on the non-existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq. As early as 1997, Wanniski posted columns on his website alleging that after November 1991, UNSCOM inspectors had never found WMD in Iraq, and in fact had found and destroyed all of Iraq's WMD programs with the help of Saddam's regime in the months following the first Gulf War. Wanniski not only recognized the prospective importance of the Iraqi WMD question before other journalists, he argued correctly that Iraq didn't have any WMD and stated that the U.S. would never allow UNSCOM to end the inspections regime no matter what Iraq did.

He became a somewhat controversial figure in the conservative movement at the beginning of 2003 when he vocally opposed the impending US war with Iraq. On October 27, 2004, he publicly denounced George W. Bush, saying that "Mr. Bush has become an imperialist — one whose decisions as commander-in-chief have made the world a more dangerous place". Eventually Wanniski endorsed the Democratic candidate, John Kerry, although he clearly preferred the Republican platform on issues related to taxation.

Wanniski died of a heart attack on August 29, 2005, while working at his desk. His last published work was an article penned for the 2005 IHS Press anti-war anthology, Neo-Conned!.

Wanniski held a B.A. in political science and an M.S. in journalism from the University of California, Los Angelesmarker.

The Two Santa Claus Theory

The Two Santa Claus Theory is a political theory and strategy developed by Jude Wanniski in 1976, which he promoted within the U.S.marker Republican Party.

The theory states that, in democratic elections, if one party appeals to voters by proposing more spending, then a competing party cannot gain broader appeal by proposing less spending. The "Santa Claus" of the theory title refers to the political party that promises spending. Instead, "Two Santa Claus Theory" recommends that the competing party must assume the role of a second Santa Claus by offering other appealing options.

This theory is a response to the belief of monetarists, and especially Milton Friedman, that the government must be starved of revenue in order to control the growth of spending (since, in the view of the monetarists, spending cannot be reduced by elected bodies as the political pressure to spend is too great).

The "Two Santa Claus Theory" does not argue against this belief, but holds that such arguments cannot be espoused in an effort to win democratic elections. In Wanniski's view, the Laffer curve and supply-side economics provide an attractive alternative rationale for revenue reduction: that the economy will grow, not merely that the government will be starved of revenue. Wanniski argued that Republicans must become the tax-cutting Santa Claus to the Democrats' spending Santa Claus.


  1. [1] National Review Magazine
  3. Novak, Robert D. Introduction to the 20th anniversary edition of The Way the World Works
  5. “Propaganda Wars #2”
  6. “A Vote for Senator Kerry”

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