Bush Tax Cuts 11 Years Later…Failure and Debt

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

One way to reexamine the tax cuts implemented under President George W. Bush is to ask conservative economists what they think of them. But finding those who will defend the enormous tax breaks, now 11 years later, is difficult, according to Bruce Bartlett, a Republican policy adviser to both Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.


“It is hard to find even a reputable conservative economist willing to say anything good these days about President Bush’s tax and economic policies,” Bartlett wrote in The New York Times.


Back in 2001, Bush’s top man behind the tax breaks, economist R. Glenn Hubbard, promised the plan would provide a boost to the economy, creating 300,000 additional jobs in 2002.


But Bartlett says there was “no evidence that the tax cut had any such effect.”

Unemployment remained above 5.7% all year, and eventually went up to 6% by December. The gross domestic product did not experience the bump predicted by Hubbard, leading the administration to insist on more cuts in 2003 that focused on reducing taxes on dividends.


“Subsequent research, however, found that the increase in dividends was a short-term phenomenon and mainly at companies where stock options were a major form of executive compensation,” Bartlett wrote.


Now, years later, Bartlett says many conservative economists have little praise for Bush’s tax plan.


He cites economist Alan Viard of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, who told Bloomberg News in 2011: “The effects of the Bush tax cuts on growth were ambiguous at best,” adding, “They were not much of a poster child for pro-growth tax policy.”


Meanwhile, the per capita national debt rose by 75.2% during Bush’s presidency, a rate surpassed only by the presidency of Ronald Reagan, when the per capita debt skyrocketed by 168.2%. By comparison, the per capita debt grew by only 22.5% during Bill Clinton’s presidency and by 48.4% during Barack Obama’s first term.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

The Bush Tax-Cut Failure (by Bruce Bartlett, New York Times)

Lines of Resistance on Fiscal Deal (by Jonathan Weisman, New York Times)

The Legacy of the Bush Tax Cuts, in Four Charts (by Zachary Goldfarb, Washington Post)                                                             

US National Debt by Presidential Term, per Capita (www.PresidentialDebt.org)

Tax Rates Report Originally Suppressed by Republicans Reappears Updated (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

House GOP Blocks Nonpartisan Report that Debunks Tax Cut Mythology (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

Bush Tax Cuts Actually Helped Foreign Business more than U.S. (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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