Bush’s Tax Cut Jihad

BUSH’S TAX CUT JIHAD….Bruce Bartlett talks about taxes in the Weekly Standard today:

Someone once defined a fanatic as someone who redoubles his efforts after losing sight of his objective. Based on this definition, the Bush administration is in danger of becoming fanatical on tax policy.

[Much discussion of tax legislation details follows….]

This suggests that the White House should swallow its pride and push as forcefully as possible for a tax bill that will do as much for growth as possible over the next 18 months, even if it bears little resemblance to the president’s original plan.

Ah, but there’s the rub. Does the president really care about growth?

Well, of course he does. Presidents all care about growth, and what’s more, with an election coming up next year, any president would be nuts not to care very deeply indeed about growth. So why, then, since their political future might very well depend on it, is the Bush/Rove team so hellbent on passing a tax plan that virtually no credible economist thinks will have much of a short term stimulative effect? (Lots of economists believe that eliminating the dividend tax is a good long term measure, they just don’t think it’s likely to have much effect by 2004.)

I dunno. Maybe they’ve drunk their own Kool-Aid and actually believe that their plan will get the economy moving by next summer? Stranger things have happened, I suppose.

It’s an odd thing, though, sort of like the Bush administration’s seeming indifference to wide open nuclear sites in Iraq ? or Russia, for that matter. There are plenty of things I disagree with Bush about, but stuff like this makes no sense even if you take things on his terms. Just as he obviously has a big stake in a growing economy next year, he also obviously cares about terrorists getting their hands on nuclear waste. So why not do more about it?

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