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GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We recognize loud and clear the surplus is not the government‘s money. The surplus is the people‘s money. And we ought to trust them with their own money.
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SCHULTZ: Yeah. Now we‘re playing with China‘s money. Ten years ago today, George W. Bush looked the American people in the eye and promised us his tax cut would do big things for the country. He promised us the same with another round of tax cuts in 2003.
Well, instead, with a stroke of his pen, Mr. Bush took that budget surplus and turned it into a mountain of debt, 2.5 trillion to be exact. Bush claimed the cuts would drive economic growth, create jobs. But what followed, question mark, The “New York Times” asked last November, quote, “the decade with the slowest average annual growth since World War II. That statement is true even if you forget about the great recession and simply look at 2001 through 2007.”
But it didn‘t have to be this way, folks. Think Progress, they did the math. They said for the same price as the Bush tax cuts, we could have sent tens of millions of students to college, retrofitted every household in America with the capacity to generate alternative energy, hired millions of firefighters, police officers, given kids health care coverage, or put millions more teachers into the classrooms.”
Pretty steep price to pay if you ask me. Now to be fair, the Bush tax cuts, well, they did help out roughly one percent of the country. One patriotic millionaire told the “Huffington Post” that the Bush tax cuts allowed him to build a dance floor in his house. Yet another says that he was able to buy a bigger boat.
Quote, “the problem is it was built in Italy.”
Joining me now is Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston. He‘s the author of “Free Lunch, How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense and Stick You With The Bill.” He‘s a columnist for “Tax Notes.” Welcome, Mr. Johnston. Great to have you with us tonight.
So we‘ve already endured a decade of stagnant growth. What‘s going to happen if these Bush tax cuts get extended even further, as it might happen in 2012?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, “TAX NOTES”: Well, very simply, we‘ll have a worsening of the conditions we have. We‘ll have more and more debt being taken on by the federal government and we won‘t be meeting basic human needs and services that we have.
We already have food borne illness rates in this country that are significantly higher than in any of the other modern countries. We‘re firing school teachers left and right. At the same time we‘re doing this and cutting taxes, Ed, we continue to be giving away money in various incentives and gifts to billionaires and monopolists all over the country.
So if we continue down this road, there will be fewer jobs, less wealth, and we‘ll all be much worse off.
SCHULTZ: Well, Tim Pawlenty is out there saying that he wants to go even further. Is that even possible?
JOHNSTON: You know, I chuckled as I listened to you talk about that, Ed, because apparently he doesn‘t understand that all Google does is connect you to something. It doesn‘t do anything. So when he connects you — when Google connects you to a library or a government place that does business, all it‘s doing is telling you—helping you find it. They‘re not doing any work. They‘re just connecting you together.
And I marvel that he does not grasp this fundamental about what Google is about.
SCHULTZ: Ten years after the fact, what is the single biggest failure of these Bush tax cuts in your opinion?
JOHNSTON: Oh, it‘s the destruction of jobs all over the place. President Bush—candidate Bush said that if we elected him instead of that other guy, we‘d be better off than we were in the year 2000. Well, incomes are down 2.7 trillion dollars for the eight years of his administration and worse since then.
It‘s continued on a downward path as the tax cuts have continued. The government—federal income tax revenues are down a third from 2001, when the Bush tax cuts started, to today when you look at them per American. A one-third fall.
And at the same time, of course, we‘re continuing to not have the money for the things that will create wealth in the future: research, education, public health, infrastructure.
SCHULTZ: So 2012 is all about priority and what the American people want. David Cay Johnston, thanks for your time tonight. Appreciate it.
Transcribed by the Barefoot Accountant of Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC
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