Cutting the tax cuts

President Bush’s Tax Cut Suicide

James Pethokoukis:

If Bush’s primary domestic legacy does disappear, he really only has himself ultimately to blame–not Democrats. That may seem counterintuitive or even unfair given that Bush is the biggest tax-cutter since President Reagan. But consider these four ways in which the president has inadvertently planted the seeds for the demise of his own fiscal policies.

1) Failed to properly time the 2001 tax cuts.
2) Failed to make the 2001 tax cuts “growthy” enough.
3) Failed to control spending.
4) Failed to reform entitlements.

The tax cuts are Bush’s “primary domestic legacy”? Aren’t they his only domestic legacy at this point?

Or, rather, his only one that’s not a failure. Look at the border and immigration. Port security. The readiness of the military to fight. Social Security. All losses. Not all his fault, perhaps, but all losses nonetheless.

It will take some time to see whether his court appointees become a lasting legacy or not. If the economy maintains its momentum, maybe that will stand out. But I fear that that momentum is tied almost directly to the very tax cuts Democrats are looking to let expire and that it will hit the wall hard if they do.

Just as Pethokoukis argues that the death of the tax cuts may be Bush’s own fault, many of the other Republican shortcomings from the past six years are of the GOP’s own making.


  1. Bush failed to keep the water-hearted wussies in the GOP in line. He didn’t force them to control spending by vetoing pork spending. The Republicans failed to make the tax cuts permanent. I never understood if it was cowardice or crass politics. Did they not have the guts to cut them permanently or are they waiting for the cuts to expire so they can blame the Democrats? Either way it did us a huge disservice. I never dreamed that the Republicans could control Congress and the Presidency for 4 years and not even try to enact real tax reform. What happened to the flat-tax? They didn’t touch it. I thought this was the Holy Grail of conservative politics. Not only did the fail to reform entitlements (I despise that word), they added another multi-billion boondoggle with the drug program. No wonder the Republicans lost – they made me miss the split government of the 1990’s where nothing got done. At least the damage was minimal (except to our military capabilities).

  2. I think the Republicans and Democrats are having a competition to show who can be the worst government. Just look at how they’re competing to see who can insert the most inappropriate earmarks in a bill. It’s a bit hard to say ‘if you perform badly, I won’t vote for you’ – the only real way to make progress in a two-party system – when the other party is just as odious. We have elections here in just a couple of days and frankly, there isn’t a single candidate I’d vote for out of the five or so. I think after voting I’ll have to take a shower to get rid of that dirty feeling… As they say ‘Democracy is the worst system of government – except for all the others.’