Little appetite for 'caviar' argument against food tax cut

Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, center, and Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, left look at a district map during a House floor session in Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. At right is Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A former Reagan administration economist's steak-and-caviar argument against cutting Tennessee's sales tax on groceries appeared to generate little appetite at the state Capitol on Thursday.

Arthur Laffer told a House committee earlier in the week that the state should pursue greater reductions in business taxes instead of cutting any of the tax on food as part of an effort to balance out a proposed hike in the tax on gas and diesel.

Cutting the sales tax on groceries amounts to "silly pandering" and cutting corporate taxes does more to spur the economy, Laffer said.

Democratic Rep. John Mark Windle of Livingston challenged Laffer about whether families wouldn't benefit from paying less on essential food items like baby formula.

Laffer responded that such a move would also "cut the tax on my buying a steak or caviar," and argued that lawmakers should focus on having the greatest economic impact.