If there's one thing that Republican politicians agree on, it's that slashing taxes brings the government more money. "You cut taxes, and the tax revenues increase," President Bush said in a speech last year. Keeping taxes low, Vice President Dick Cheney explained in a recent interview, "does produce more revenue for the Federal Government." Presidential candidate John McCain declared in March that "tax cuts ... as we all know, increase revenues." His rival Rudy Giuliani couldn't agree more. "I know that reducing taxes produces more revenues," he intones in a new TV ad.
If there's one thing that economists agree on, it's that these claims are false. We're not talking just ivory-tower lefties. Virtually every economics Ph.D. who has worked in a prominent role in the Bush Administration acknowledges that the tax cuts enacted during the past six years have not paid for themselves--and were never intended to. Harvard professor Greg Mankiw, chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers from 2003 to 2005, even devotes a section of his best-selling economics textbook to debunking the claim that tax cuts increase revenues.
NONE of the Bush-Cheney predictions on job growth from the tax cuts has come through. Federal revenue has increased only modestly. And the Clinton economy of the 90s has proven superior in every way to the grotesque kleptocracy presided over by the Boy King. Now the subprime mortgage crisis is rippling through the economy, credit is being crunched, and a lot of big money people are in a cold sweat panic.
I hope there isn't a recession in 2008. Too many people get hurt by them in too many terrible ways. I hope all the economists who predict this are wrong. But if they're right, I know who will be to blame: Bush, the Republican congress of 2001-2007, Alan Greenspan urging people to use their homes as a cash register, and all the spineless Democrats who let it happen. If there is a recession, coupled with the ongoing mess in Iraq, I think it spells doom for whatever sacrificial lamb the Republican Party runs for president. Then President Clinton, President Obama, or President Edwards will have to dig us out of the dungheap that W and his conservative friends have left them.
It won't be easy.