So How Did the Bush Tax Cuts Work Out for the Economy? The 2008 income tax data are now in, so we can assess the fulfillment of the Republican promise that tax cuts would produce widespread prosperity by looking at all the years of the George W. Bush presidency.
Just as they did in 2000, the Republicans are running this year on an economic platform of tax cuts, especially making the tax cuts permanent for the richest among us. So how did the tax cuts work out? My analysis of the new data, with all figures in 2008 dollars:
Total income was $2.74 trillion less during the eight Bush years than if incomes had stayed at 2000 levels.
That much additional income would have more than made up for the lack of demand that keeps us mired in the Great Recession. That would mean no need for a stimulus, although it would not have affected the last administration's interfering with market capitalism by bailing out irresponsible Wall Streeters instead of letting the market determine their fortunes.
In only two years was total income up, but even when those years are combined they exceed the declines in only one of the other six years.
Even if we limit the analysis by starting in 2003, when the dividend and capital gains tax cuts began, through the peak year of 2007, the result is still less income than at the 2000 level. Total income was down $951 billion during those four years.
Average incomes fell. Average taxpayer income was down $3,512, or 5.7 percent, in 2008 compared with 2000, President Bush's own benchmark year for his promises of prosperity through tax cuts.
Had incomes stayed at 2000 levels, the av
erage taxpayer would have earned almost $21,000 more over those eight years. That's almost $50 per week.Warren Buffett, billionaire, pays a total tax rate (federal, state & local) of
0.2% of his income and investment gains. A typical single person earning a
minimum wage pays taxes amounting to 22% of her wages, a 100-fold higher rate
than Mr. Buffett’s.
The top 1% in the US have gone from owning 22% to 40% of the nation's wealth in
the last thirty years. This is largely due to the tax cuts for the wealthy
investor class, started under Reagan, continued under Bush. They were supposed
to encourage investment and strengthen the economy. Since then, the average
annual GDP growth dropped by one-quarter.