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Over at the Center for American Progress, Michael Linden and Michael Ettinger argue that Barack Obama has cut taxes more than George W. Bush. They start out by noting “‘the Bush tax cuts’ were massive. And President Obama is the one calling for the expiration of some of those tax cuts.” Given this and Obama’s desire for “more revenue,” the CAPsters generously allow “you could be forgiven for guessing that President Bush is the bigger tax cutter.”
Au contraire! Linden and Ettinger contend, “By the end of his first term, President Obama will have signed into law a series of tax cuts that, taken together, exceed the value of those signed into law by President Bush.” They illustrate this with a little chart.
Put it all together, and in one fell swoop, President Obama cut taxes by $654 billion in 2011 and 2012 alone. In other words, with this bill President Obama cut taxes by more, in raw dollar amounts, in just half of his term than George W. Bush did over his full first term.
With the huge Recovery Act tax cuts and the enormous December 2010 tax cuts combined, President Obama has already signed into law tax cuts amounting to more than $900 billion from 2009 through 2012. Even after accounting for legislation that the president signed that increased revenue during that period, President Obama has cut taxes by more than $850 billion in his first term, or approximately 1.5 percent of GDP.
Huge! Enormous! This isn’t the first time Obama supporters have tried this tactic. During the 2008 campaign I wrote, “Barack Obama is explicitly promising to reduce federal revenues ‘to below the levels that prevailed under Ronald Reagan.’” Whoever wrote this economic plan on a wet cocktail napkin ought to have just thrown the thing away at the end of the night.
Of course, Obama’s tax cuts include an extension of the Bush tax cuts plus temporary tax relief he fully intends to take away. There is a fairness argument to be had over cuts to the income tax, which many lower-income workers don’t pay, versus payroll taxes, which lower-income workers do pay while wealthier taxpayers pay such taxes on a lower percentage of their income. (Though there is a growth argument to be had over these tax cuts as well.) Toward the end of this mess, the authors even acknowledge “if you compare the entire 10-year cost of the Bush tax cuts to a similar 10-year period predicted for President Obama’s proposals, President Bush is still the bigger tax cutter.”
Beam me up, Scotty.