As we debate the efficacy and wisdom of extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, it would be beneficial to review what that policy has actually accomplished in the past. The annual Census Bureau report on income, poverty and access to health care serves up the bad news for the Bush legacy project. In every single measurable statistic, the numbers were worse after eight years of George W. Bush then at the end of the Clinton Presidency. Household median income decreased, the number of people living in poverty increased and access to health care dramatically decreased.
The actual numbers are pretty striking. Over 8 million more people were living in poverty at the end of Bush’s term. 26% higher than it was under Clinton. This is accented by the statistics for children living in poverty which rose more than 21%. Also, Median income declined over 4%. This is the first time that income has declined during a two term presidential cycle in over 40 years. If the poverty and income numbers weren’t bad enough, 8 million more people were left without health care by the end of 2008. These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. When broken down into smaller demographic segments there are still no positive trends. Worse for Bush is the fact that all of these statistics went up during the eight years of the Clinton Presidency.
The pillar of conservative economic policy is that tax cuts for the wealthy benefit all members of society from the top all the way down. The pundits call it “trickle down” economics. George Bush Sr. called it “voodoo economics” when he ran against Reagan in the 1980 primaries. It has become their answer for everything from a sluggish economy to universal health care. Tax cuts are verse 1, chapter 1 of the conservative economic playbook. If that doesn’t work they really don’t have anything else.
Bush made tax cuts the centerpiece of his Presidency and stuck with his plan even after he pushed us into two wars that could not possibly be paid for by current tax revenue. The result was huge deficits and a massive increase in the national debt. This is after tax increases helped Bill Clinton balance the budget and provide the country with a deficit surplus. So, tax cuts under George W. Bush resulted in more poverty, less income, more people without healthcare and higher Federal deficits and debt. Seems to me, it is case closed on “trickle down” economics.
Which begs the question; why are they still pursuing a failed policy? How do they, in good conscience, sell the same old, broken down wheelbarrow full of crap to the American public? They simply can’t help themselves. Tax cuts are part of Republican DNA. If the top tax rates were 1% they would still believe it to be too high. But a tax code that is cemented into place by principle or ideology needlessly ignores changing economic circumstances and leaves no room for an honest analysis of its full effect. The Republicans are ignoring this report and common sense just like they ignore all the other evidence that does not fit within their ideology. They are plowing straight ahead with their one size fits all economic policy. “Voodoo economics” has become like a Zombie in a low budget horror movie that just keeps coming back again and again. If the Republicans get their way, the American people will once again become it’s doomed hapless victims.
If you would like to see the full Census Bureau report, you can find it here
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