Bush Tax Cuts Turn 10: Wall Street Celebrates, Americans Suffer

If the Bush tax cuts are so great, why has the economy been so bad since they became law 10 years ago?

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Break out the bubbly, because there will be celebrations today on Wall Street and in corporate boardrooms and mansions all across America. Why? Because today is the 10th anniversary of the big Bush tax breaks for bankers and billionaires and the businesses that bankroll their big-budget campaigns.

Today is an opportunity to ponder these questions: If the Bush tax cuts are so great, why has the economy been so bad since they became law 10 years ago? And how about this brain teaser: If the GOP theology of cutting taxes for the rich brings in more revenue, why is Democratic President Bill Clinton the only president in the last generation to leave a surplus behind for the next president? [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the economy.]

In 1980, President George H.W. Bush called it voodoo economics. Bush 41 conveniently changed his position when he became Ronald Reagan’s running mate that year. But the first President Bush was right the first time. The idea that tax revenues will go up when you cut taxes has cast an evil spell over the U.S. economy going all the way back to Ronald Reagan. In 1981, the new GOP math became 1 + 1 = 3. With this kind of fuzzy math, it’s no wonder that President Reagan left behind a massive budget deficit.

George W. Bush may have had George H.W. Bush for a father, but Ronald Reagan was his role model. The latest incarnation of voodoo economics was the creation of the second President Bush. The tax cuts for bankers and billionaires that became law in 2001 quickly turned the Clinton surplus into the Bush budget deficit as big as Donald Trump’s ego. Voodoo is what Republicans do so well. [See cartoons on the budget and deficit.]

But Bush 43 did not stop there in handing out goodies to Wall Street. In 2008, the president asked his Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, to bail out Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street investment firms to the tune of three quarters of a trillion dollars. Of course, President Bush never even considered an attempt to rescue the millions of working Americans who first lost their jobs and then their homes because of malfeasance on Wall Street.

Last month, the Center for Budget Priorities released a study that demonstrated that the two biggest reasons for the current budget deficit were the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. So what do the Republicans do? Do they vote to cut Pentagon spending or end dole welfare for wealthy Americans? Of course they don’t. They gut Medicare. Genius!

Yesterday, Frank Patitucci, CEO and Chairman of NuCompass Mobility Service, called on Republican Speaker John Boehner to increase taxes on Americans making more than $1 million a year. Patitucci explained his position by saying businesses need a strong middle class to prosper.

But I don’t want to be a party pooper or rain on Wall Street’s parade, so party hardy, guys. Don’t scrimp on the Dom Perignon and the caviar. Santa Claus comes only once a year. Let’s worry about the GOP cuts in healthcare for seniors and nutrition programs for women and their infant children another day.

  • Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the economy.
  • See cartoons on the budget and deficit.
  • See who's been visiting the White House.