This Week Marks 10 Years Under the Bush Tax Cuts

How’s That Trickley-Downy Thing Workin’ For Ya?
Please, somebody grab that pen! (June 7, 2001)

In addition to being the day that the word “weiner” stopped being naughty and started being tiresome, June 7 was another milestone. According to self-proclaimed “Corporate Person American” William Rice, it deserves commemoration as the 10th anniversary of the Bush tax cuts.

Rice: ‘The Bush tax cuts created the deficit now being cited as a reason to pretty much scrap Medicare and once again make a college education a pleasant, impossible dream among the lower classes’

It was on June 7, 2001, that President Bush signed into law the high-end tax cuts that added $2.6 trillion to the national debt. It was these tax cuts, along with two wars and a recession, that created the deficit now being cited as a reason to pretty much scrap Medicare and once again make a college education a pleasant, impossible dream among the lower classes.

Rice’s modest proposal says that government is for pansies, unless you’re a corporation and in that case, government is here for you.

We expect the government to continue providing certain vital services, of course, such as huge, no-bid defense contracts; and 24-hour, drive-through patent courts for us to fight over the profits of questionably-useful and semi-dangerous but very well-promoted new drugs. But all the peripheral activities of government — such as ensuring adequate childhood nutrition and repairing drawbridges — merely create a strain on the natural ecosystem of corporations and Corporate-Person Americans.

If Republicans continue to run the economy into the ground by refusing to look at the revenue side of the budget equation, Obama will have to borrow Pres. Reagan’s line when he ran for re-election in 1984, but with a slight adjustment: Are you better off now than you were ten years ago?

University of California Economics Professor Emmanuel Saez has the answer – you’re not. Unless, of course, you are in the top income bracket, the one Congress won’t touch, and the one the Bush tax cuts were engineered to protect. If you’re in that group, according to Saez, the current recession hasn’t affected you all that much. And that’s how the Bush tax cuts were intended. Writing in 2008, Saez noted:

…the fall in top income shares from 2007 to 2008 is less than during the 2001 recession, in part because the Great recession has hit bottom 90% incomes much harder than the 2001 recession, and in part because upper incomes excluding realized capital gains have resisted relatively well during the first year of the Great Recession.

Income inequality, concentration, disparity, whatever term is used, is getting worse, Saez said.

Looking further ahead, based on the US historical record, falls in income concentration due to economic downturns are temporary unless drastic regulation and tax policy changes are implemented…Such policy changes took place after the Great Depression during the New Deal and permanently reduced income concentration until the 1970s. In contrast, recent downturns, such as the 2001 recession, lead to only very temporary drops in income concentration.

And those policy changes are dead in the water as long as the Republicans and teabillies continue to have their way.

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