Ten years ago, the great con known as the Bush tax cuts was signed into law.
We were told that the budget surplus left by the Clinton administration would be better off in the hands of the taxpayers. Those tax breaks were to stimulate the economy, create jobs and lead us all to the American Dream.
Of course, the story of the past decade has been much different:
The lion's share of the tax breaks were stuffed into the pockets of a small percentage of taxpayers. The top 10 percent of earners received 55 percent of the tax benefits; the top 1 percent alone grabbed 38 percent. And, at the tip top of the income scale, the top .01 percent of households snatched an average cut of $520,000, or 450 times the average break for a middle-income family.
The current unemployment rate of 9.1 percent is more than double the rate in the same month a decade ago. In more human terms, 13.7 million people are currently looking for work but can't find a job. And those figures are upwards of 76 percent higher if we include the under-employed and folks discouraged by a still-thin job market.
As for the American dream of white picket fences and a home to call your own, overall home foreclosures were two-and-a-half times above the 2001 rate by the end of 2010. Today, roughly 3.7 million homes are in danger of foreclosure.
Chart h/t U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Historical Data
Policy-makers should be addressing the dire unemployment and foreclosure epidemics that plague our economy instead of focusing on the long run deficit. But it is worth mentioning that, for all the hubbub about the size of government and federal spending, the Bush tax cuts increased the deficit by $1.7 trillion between 2001 and 2008. And they remain the policy change responsible for the biggest share of our projected deficits for the next ten years.
It couldn't be more obvious; if you care about the deficit, end the Bush tax cuts. If you care about the economy, end the Bush tax cuts. If you care about suffering families who can't find a job getting forced out of their homes, end the Bush tax cuts. It's past time to begin getting our economy back on track. Ending a policy that lines the pockets of millionaires is the right place to start.
The results are in. The Bush tax cuts are a massive failure. Ten years is ten years too long. End the Bush tax cuts now.
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