Between 2001 and 2003, the Bush administration instituted a federal tax cut for all taxpayers. Among other changes, the lowest income tax rate was lowered from 15% to 10%, the 27% rate went to 25%, the 30% rate went to 28%, the 35% rate went to 33%, and the top marginal tax rate went from 39.6% to 35%.In addition, the child tax credit went from $500 to $1000, and the "marriage penalty" was reduced. Since the cuts were implemented as part of the annual congressional budget resolution, which protected the bill from filibusters, numerous amendments, and more than 20 hours of debate, it had to include a sunset clause. Unless congress passes legislation making the tax cuts permanent, they will expire in 2011.
Some policy analysts and non-profit groups such as OMBWatch, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the Tax Policy Center have attributed some of the rise in income inequality to the Bush administration's tax policy. In February 2007, President Bush addressed the rise of inequality for the first time, saying "The reason is clear: We have an economy that increasingly rewards education and skills because of that education". However, prominent social scientists, such as economist Paul Krugman and political scientist Larry Bartels, have pointed out that education fails to explain the rising gap between the top 1% and the bottom 99%, which has been the site of most increases in inequality. They point out that if education were to blame, a larger group would be pulling ahead of the rest of the population, and that wages of highly educated earners have fallen far behind those of the very rich. Furthermore, they point out that the U.S. is unique among developed countries in seeing such a sharp rise in inequality, while the composition of its economy and labor force is not - if education were to blame, one would expect the same trend across all post-industrial nations. Bartels has asserted that the skill base explanation is partially used as it is more "comforting" to blame impersonal forces, rather than policies.
The tax cuts have been largely opposed by American economists, including the Bush administration's own Economic Advisement Council. In 2003, 450 economists, including ten Nobel Prize laureate, signed the Economists' statement opposing the Bush tax cuts, sent to President Bush stating that "these tax cuts will worsen the long-term budget outlook... will reduce the capacity of the government to finance Social Security and Medicare benefits as well as investments in schools, health, infrastructure, and basic research... [and] generate further inequalities in after-tax income." The Bush administration has claimed, based on the concept of the Laffer Curve, that the tax cuts actually paid for the themselves by generating enough extra revenue from additional economic growth to offset the lower taxation rates. However, income tax revenues in dollar terms did not regain their FY 2000 peak until 2006. Through the end of 2008, total federal tax revenues relative to GDP have yet to regain their 2000 peak. In contrast to the claims made by Bush, Cheney, and Republican presidential primary candidates such as Rudy Giuliani, there is a broad consensus among even conservative economists (including current and former top economists of the Bush Administration such as Greg Mankiw) that the tax cuts have had a substantial net negative impact on revenues (i.e., revenues would have been substantially higher if the tax cuts had not taken place), even taking into account any stimulative effect the tax cuts may have had and any resulting revenue feedback effects.
In terms of increasing inequality, the effect of Bush's tax cuts on the upper, middle and lower class is contentious. Most economists argue that the cuts have benefited the nation's richest households at the expense of the middle and lower class, while libertarians and conservatives have claimed that tax cuts have benefited all taxpayers. Economists Peter Orszag and William Gale described the Bush tax cuts as reverse government redistribution of wealth, "[shifting] the burden of taxation away from upper-income, capital-owning households and toward the wage-earning households of the lower and middle classes." Between 2003 and 2004, following the 2003 tax cuts, the share of after-tax income going to the top 1% rose from 12.2% in 2003 to 14.0% in 2004. (This followed the period from 2000 to 2002, where after-tax incomes declined the most for the top 1%. At the same time, the share of overall tax liabilities of the top 1% increased from 22.9% to 25.3%, as the result of a tax system which became more progressive since 2000.
While this blogger rests his case we reserve the right to call rebuttal witnesses. These are the facts and they are undisputed!
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