Why Obama Should Let the Bush Tax Cuts Expire

This is no ordinary recession.

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The rich people I know wish to see the George W. Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire--and to have their views counted in by Congress.

To put it plainly, they found his act of lowering taxes on the most well-off Americans, with the nation engaged in two wars, absurd in the first place. All rich people are not as selfish as some would have you believe.

Taken as a whole, Bush's policies brought on more bread, circuses, and bloodshed than the Treasury could afford--and cut sharply into tax revenue. It also caused more deployments than the fine Army could take for nearly nine years, but the "broken force" is a story for another day. For seven years straight during the Bush reign, the government deficit grew at a staggering rate, starting from a position of peace and prosperity in 2000.

Bill Clinton, love or hate him, knew how to grow the economy into a flourishing garden. Bush's economy in retrospect is more like a trashed fraternity house.

[Check out a roundup of editorial cartoons on the economy.]

Let President Obama and congressional Democrats show some horse sense and let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy--families with income of at least $250,000--die with no ado. They won't lose a single vote this fall. It's a matter of fairness and squareness--in a time of need, the wealthy are actually undertaxed (marginally) compared to the rest of us. I am glad to see Alan Greenspan agrees with me.

If only the other vestiges of Bush's benighted presidency could vanish so easily. If I met the man, would I be able to shake his hand? His fingerprints are all over war-ravaged Iraq, lawless Afghanistan, and the beleaguered United States. The American character is relentlessly upbeat, but its resilient fabric is being stretched past any point I've ever seen.

Most people living today do not remember the Depression in the 1930s--my father, born in 1933, bears some psychological marks, but by the time he was 4 or 5, the nation was beginning to lift out of it, thanks to the creative public works programs launched by the government directed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Only octogenarians (and up) truly remember the Depression. For the rest of us, when we say "in this economy," we mean the worst we've ever seen in our lives. This is no ordinary recession. Like a lifeguard, the federal government jumped in to rescue the drowning auto industry and Wall Street. When it comes to the great middle class and high anxiety about foreclosed homes and joblessness, the lifeguard seems to think we can swim to shore on our own.

With so many American households out to sea financially, the least the president can do is let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy sink into oblivion.

  • Check out a roundup of editorial cartoons on the economy.
  • See which industries give the most to Congress.
  • Read more coverage of the political stories of the year.