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February 14, 2005

This Would Have Been a Nice Editorial 4 1/2 Years Ago

The New York Times arrives at the party, 4 1/2 years late:

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: The Importance of Being Earnest: It's not hard to see what brought the United States to this juncture. Mr. Bush's first-term tax cuts were too expensive and too skewed toward top earners to work as effective, self-correcting economic stimulus. Instead, predictably, they've driven the nation deep into the red. Having reduced tax revenue to a share of the economy not seen since 1959, the cuts are a huge factor in the swing from a budget surplus to a $412 billion deficit....

Lately, Mr. Bush has been talking the deficit reduction talk, but there's no sign that he is willing to walk the walk. In his 2006 budget, he pledges to slash spending, but largely in areas that would have only a small impact on the deficit and where cuts would be politically difficult, not to mention cruel, such as food stamps, veterans' medical care, child care and low-income housing. Meanwhile, he is pounding the table for more deficit-bloating measures - making his first-term tax cuts permanent, at a 10-year cost of as much as $2.1 trillion; putting into effect two high-income tax breaks that were enacted in 2001 but have been on hold, at a 10-year cost of $115 billion; and introducing new tax incentives to allow high earners to shift even more cash into tax shelters, at a cost that would ultimately work out to more than $30 billion a year when investors cashed in their accounts tax-free....

Congress can avert this crisis-in-waiting by forcing Mr. Bush to be serious about deficit reduction. The first-term tax cuts should be allowed to lapse. Cuts that are not yet in effect should not be allowed to begin. And no new programs should be started that require megaborrowing. If the president doesn't see that he has more important tasks than cutting taxes for the rich and undermining Social Security, Congress should set him straight.

Posted by DeLong at February 14, 2005 08:11 AM