Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bush Tax Cuts Were a Great Success

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the enactment of teh first Bush tax cut into law. Commentators are calling the Bush tax cuts an abysmal failure. The tax cuts ushered in stagnating growth in real wages, retarded GDP expansion, and decreased job creation. The government surplus evaporated, leaving trillions of trillions of dollars of debt. George Bush left an abysmal economic record even before the recession he ushered in. The economic numbers show that if the goal of the Bush Tax Cuts was to create "massive job growth, vast new wealth, higher incomes, smaller government, and balanced budgets," as many conservatives argued they would, they were a complete failure.

I am afraid that those goals are a total misreading of history. The Bush White House was not interested in continuing the government surplus; all other goals besides eliminating that surplus of tax recepits compared to government expenses were ancilary to Bush's goals. Look no farther than the Governor's rhetoric as he signed the tax cuts into law:
"We recognize, loud and clear, the surplus is not the government's money," he said. "The surplus is the people's money. And we ought to trust them with their own money."
Goal #1 was to wipe out the surplus. The logic is plain: as long as government is taking in more money than it is spending, it is taking in too much money. Bush proceeded along ideological lines to zero out government balances without regard to consequences. The promised economic benefits were all made by outside voices, looking to defend the fateful decision to decrease tax receipts.

The Bush Tax Cuts achieved their only purpose: to wipe out the good governance practices of the Clinton administration, which estalished a sound fiscal footing for the federal government without enacting long-lasting socially progressive programs. Commentators are trying to fit the devastating consequences into a false narrative of enlightened statesmanship. There is little evidence that Bush intended for the tax cuts to benefit the American economy. The commentators who attempt to put the Bush tax cuts into this framework are dangerously misinterpreting history.

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