During this Presidential election year, the GOP is using the words "failed policies" to describe President Obama's first term in office.
It's a politically understandable, but premature charge. The incumbent Commander In Chief has occupied the White House only three years plus, and it is too early, and totally unfair at this point in time to label his first term "a failed Presidency".
It is not too early, however, to label the eight years of George W. Bush a failed Presidency. And it's not just his horrific blunder in rushing us into war in Iraq. George W. is responsible for other failed policies, and one of those has an anniversary this week. Eleven years ago this Thursday-- June 7, 2001--the second President Bush signed into law the first of what we have come to know as the Bush tax cuts.
The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act became the law of the land out of fear. The economy was slowing down at the time and it was thought by some economists and lawmakers that tax cuts were advisable.
But the tax cuts were not intended to be permanent, and therefore a "sunset" clause was inserted in the legislation so as to have the tax cuts expire in 2010.
Less than five months earlier, the Clinton Presidency had ended with bipartisan- produced back-to-back years of balanced budgets, and with a surplus--accomplishments that now are almost beyond comprehension.
The Bush tax cuts never did bring about the boom times that its supporters predicted, and America slipped into a recession in 2007/2008. The prediction in 2001that the tax cuts would resolve the national debt by 2010 now sounds like something from Fantasy Island.
The criticism of the Bush tax cuts, however, is not just for their failure. There's also the question of their fairness--or lack thereof. Those who have benefited the most--by far-- are those who least need the help, the super rich.
The drop in the top tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35%, and the elimination of the federal tax on large estates are just two of the provisions that gave "relief" to the wealthiest among us. The idea that we need to coddle the "job creators" is debunked by the fact that the Bush tax cuts didn't produce the jobs the Republicans had predicted.
The debate over the Bush tax breaks rages on. When they were due to expire at the end of 2010, supporters threatened to shut down the government--refusing to approve a federal budget unless the tax breaks for the wealthy were extended. Supporters won the game of chicken, and the tax breaks were extended for an additional two years.
And now, in spite of the slow economic recovery, and worries over the national debt, there is a Republican plan--the Paul Ryan plan--that calls for further tax breaks for the wealthy, and calls for a continuation of something that is unfair, and more important, doesn't work.
So, which is the party of "failed policies"?