“Bush Tax Cuts Had Little Positive Impact on Economy”

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Commentary by Bruce Bartlett. He suggests that we look at the items in those tax packages, keep the ones that can be shown to have had an effect, and jettison the rest. Sound like sound policy implementation to me. The Palinite / Tea Party conservatives will trash this idea and dismiss Bartlett as a traitor to the cause, because, well, they are ideologues. Bartlett recounts this exchange with a senior White House economist:

One morning in 2001, one of President Bush’s most senior economic advisers walked into the Oval Office for a meeting with the president. The day before, the adviser had learned that the president had decided to send out tax-rebate checks to stimulate the faltering economy. Concerned about deficits and the dubious stimulatory effect of such rebates, he had called the president’s chief of staff, Andy Card, to ask for the audience, and the meeting had been set.

As the man took his seat in the wing chair next to the president’s desk, he began to explain his problem with the president’s decision. The fact of the matter was that in this area of policy, this adviser was one of the experts, really top-drawer, and had been instrumental in devising some of the very language now used to discuss these concepts. He was convinced, he told Bush, that the president’s position would soon enough be seen as “bad policy.”

This, it seems, was the wrong thing to say to the president.

According to senior administration officials who learned of the encounter soon after it happened, President Bush looked at the man. “I don’t ever want to hear you use those words in my presence again,” he said.

“What words, Mr. President?”

“Bad policy,” President Bush said. “If I decide to do it, by definition it’s good policy. I thought you got that.”

The adviser was dismissed. The meeting was over.

The mantra you hear over and over again among conservatives is “all or nothing” concerning the extension of the tax cuts. House Minority Leader John Boehner recently said if he had to, he would vote for only a partial extension of the Bush tax cuts, and was promptly eviscerated by the talk radio set. There is no middle ground to even discuss what would work best. They don’t realize it, but the Tea Party has become a collective version of George W Bush.

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