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Time To Let The Bush Tax Cuts Expire?



June 6, 2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - "Let them eat cake" has been the message on the Bush administration tax cuts, critics say, and with the ten-year anniversary of the cuts this week, they say it's time for them to go. According to the Congressional Budget Office, if extended, the Bush tax cuts would nearly double the deficit in ten years.

Mike Konczal, a research fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and a well-regarded blogger on economics issues, says the cuts never have helped the economy much, in spite of the way they were sold.

"It's not like this has unleashed a wave of productivity, or better incentives, or increased work output. It's mostly just rich people got a lot more money."

According to Citizens for Tax Justice, in 2013 the tax cuts would give the richest 1 percent of West Virginians $30,000 a family. The bottom three-fifths would get less than $400. With high unemployment and a budget fight in Congress, Republicans want to extend the tax cuts again, arguing they would trickle down to working people.

Konczal says it would be wiser to do more to put people to work directly.

He says the tragedy is that more of that money should have been invested in the country.

"These deficits weren't created to increase schooling or make better infrastructure, or put money in working people's pockets."

Republicans say Medicare and Medicaid should be cut to pay for the deficits and extending the tax cuts. Konczal says that, in spite of the rhetoric, that won't put people to work.

"It's textbook economics. That was a lot of the logic in 1937, when we caused a second wave of the Great Depression."

Konczal says what's happened in Britain shows that slashing domestic spending doesn't help employment. He says the government there made cuts, hoping to boost the business climate.

"That was supposed to go up, and it's actually gone down. And the logic makes sense, right? Who wants to open a business in an area where there is really high unemployment?"

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the vast majority of the current budget deficit is a result of the Bush tax cuts, the wars, and falling revenues during the Great Recession.

The group West Virginians United will sponsor "Let Them Eat Cupcakes: A Rally for the Really, Really Rich" Tuesday, June 7, 5-6:30 p.m. at the federal courthouse in Charleston. The "bake sale" with music will raise funds for Medicare and Medicaid.

More on the impact of the Bush tax cuts is at www.ctj.org

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV