Saturday, August 06, 2011

Obama partisans ignore facts when bashing Bush

I've written about some of this before...

Byron York:
Revenues fell in Bush's first two years because of a combination of the tech bust and the start of the tax cuts. But then things took off. After taking in $1.782 trillion in tax revenues in 2003, the government collected $1.88 trillion in 2004; $2.153 trillion in 2005; $2.406 trillion in 2006; and $2.567 trillion in 2007, according to figures compiled by the Office of Management and Budget. That's a 44 percent increase from 2003 to 2007. (Revenues slid downward a bit in 2008, and a lot in 2009, when the financial crisis sent the economy into a tailspin.) "Everybody talks about how much the Bush tax cuts 'cost,'" says one GOP strategist. "We're saying, no, they led to a huge increase in revenue."


None of this is to say that George W. Bush had a good record on spending. He didn't, and he's fair game for criticism. But is it honest to condemn reckless spending in "eight years of Republican rule" when Democrats controlled the Senate for four of those years and the House for two? Is it honest to talk about the "cost" of the Bush tax cuts when federal revenues increased significantly while they were in effect? And is it honest to refer to Bush's ballooning deficits when deficits actually trended down for much of his presidency -- at least before Democrats won control of Congress?
There are a couple of very important points in there. The issue of the "cost" of the tax cuts cannot be overstated. Everyone on the left that wants to point the finger of blame at Bush always starts with the "the Bush tax cuts cost $x billion dollars, and that's the source of the deficit" argument. Blaming the Bush tax cuts for the deficit assumes that, were they not in place, everyone would have made the same amount of money, the economy would have grown at the same rate, and that tax revenues would, therefore, have been higher by an exactly predictable amount. I don't buy any of those assumptions. It's a fundamentally dishonest way to start the discussion.

The other key part of the debate that gets ignored by the finger-pointers on the left is that deficits did shrink through the middle of Bush's Presidency. The current deficit explosion dates to the election of a Democrat-controlled Congress in 2006. Again, none of this exonerates Bush or the Republican Congress, because they were not good stewards. But the Democrats have been much, much worse...

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