The Bush Tax Cuts Failed. Period

It's a chart that's been making the rounds for a while now. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities graphed out the main drivers of current and projected deficits and came up with the following:


TARP, bailouts, the stimulus? Ain't crap. And the economic downturn didn't really make much of a dent. The big driver of current and future deficits are the Bush era tax cuts. Although the hole blown in the deficit by the cuts dwarfs them, it pays to point out that we fought two wars -- which Bush made sure were off-budget -- while giving people who could afford to help pay for those wars a free ride.

This isn't pie-in-the-sky liberal loopiness here. These are history, these are facts. We were told that tax cuts would help us "grow our way out of deficits." They didn't. Again, that is fact. We were told the tax cuts would give us a rollicking, healthy economy. Look around you. They failed. That is a fact. In short, every argument in favor of the cuts has failed to materialize. The Bush tax cuts are -- as a simple matter of historical fact -- a complete failure. They are currently zombie policy; dead arguments, inexplicably still shambling around, serving no actual, real world purpose and feeding off the public dime.

Which brings us to a post by Steve Benen yesterday:

How do GOP leaders defend this? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried out this line on CNN's "State of the Union" yesterday.

CROWLEY: And I think I can get a yes or no from you on this. No tax increases will you accept at all in either the short, the medium or the long term, and that includes close tax loopholes?

MCCONNELL: Well, there aren't going to be any tax increases. You know, that was settled by last November's election. The president knows that.

I'm trying to think of a dumber line on fiscal policy. Nothing comes to mind.

"Indeed, I wonder if he’s even thought this through," Benen wrote. "In 2009, after two consecutive cycles that went heavily in Democrats' favor, did that settle the debate and prove the country opposes spending cuts? For that matter, did it also settle the debate and demonstrable voters' desire for tax increases?"

Only the elections that go your way matter, apparently. This is an incredibly weak argument, made all the weaker by polling. The public doesn't back the Republicans on this and everyone knows it, Mitch included. A McClatchy-Marist poll in April found that "voters by a margin of 2-to-1 support raising taxes on incomes above $250,000, with 64 percent in favor and 33 percent opposed."

Note to Mitch McConnell; if you're going to play the will-of-the-people card, make sure you actually have it in your hand.

And here's a question that's both interesting and informative -- who does McConnell think he's fooling? There he is, on the teevee, lying to you about what you want. Why on Earth would he even think that would work? A straw man argument only works when that straw man represents someone else. When it's you, the success rate is closer to zero.

In any case, the "tax cuts forever" argument is a losing one, electorally. As government slowly strangles under the debt limit, this will become more and more clear and more and more of an issue. All summer long, the GOP plans to fight for the interests of a very few -- against popular opinion. In a high-profile, front page battle.

That ought to work out well for them.


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