Let’s go way back to that crazy world before 9/11…to February 2001, when the country was considering a most massive redistribution of wealth: George W. Bush’s 10-year, $1.6 trillion tax cut. Here is what the DLC had to say at the time:

GOP Claim: Future budget surpluses are so large that we can afford the President’s tax cut while paying down the national debt, keeping Social Security and Medicare solvent, and dealing with other national priorities.

New Democrat Response: The Bush tax plan relies on shaky surplus estimates that do not include the President’s own spending promises and do not reflect the enormous costs associated with the retirement of the baby boom generation. If the estimates are wrong, the Bush plan would sacrifice fiscal discipline, debt payment, Social Security and Medicare solvency, and bipartisan domestic initiatives for tax cuts.

 …pretty much wipes out the surplus.

the Bush tax scheme assumes there will be no increase in federal education funding to ensure that “no child is left behind;” no effort to reduce illiteracy; no prescription drug benefit under Medicare; no progress on extending health coverage to the 43 million uninsured Americans; no new funds to address military readiness or adopt new defense technologies; no deployment of a missile defense system; no housing or environmental or energy initiatives. 

If the Administration really believes in its own numbers, it should readily accept the idea — proposed by Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan in his recent testimony to the Senate Budget Committee, and since proposed by a bipartisan group of Senators led by DLC Chairman Evan Bayh — that any tax cut scheme should include a “trigger” making it contingent on continued economic growth and continued progress in paying down the national debt.

Obviously, a number of “triggers” went off during Bush’s eight years – the tax-cuts are such a small part of the GOP disaster pie that by now they’re not brought up too often.

President Obama has to face one battle at a time – and whether or not the stimulus as it is signed into law tomorrow provides all or some of the necessary boost to the economy, there can be little debate about the need to get moneys flowing into state and local coffers, not to mention relief to middle- and working-class taxpayers – so he may not be in a mood to fight for a repeal of tax legislation already set to expire in two years. 

But those Bush tax cuts for the wealthy still stand, and as a liberal tax watchdog group – whose claims were later bolstered by non-partisan media outlets – found:

42.6 percent of Bush’s $1.6 trillion tax package would end up in the pockets of the top 1 percent of earners. The lowest 60 percent would net 12.6 percent. 

 

We will have to confront the deficit at some point – this administration inherited a $1.2 trillion shortfall from the outset, and the number will continue to skyrocket.

Based on the numbers above, doing away with two years of Bush’s upper-one-percent tax cuts will pay for approximately (and I didn’t pull out a calculator here) one-fifth of the total cost of the recovery bill, before 2011. While certainly that is no immediate offset, here we have a chance to repeal a tax code that was destructive and unjust in the first place, while at least working towards bringing the costs of recovery down.

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