Today, President George Bush held his final press conference, during which “he became passionate in defense of some of his policies.” When the topic turned to the economy, Bush vigorously defended his 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, adding that he “will defend them after my presidency as the right course of action”:
There’s a fundamental philosophical debate about tax cuts. Who best can spend your money, the government or you? And I’ve always sided with the people on that issue.
We’re not going to quibble with the notion that Bush didn’t know how to spend taxpayer money. However, he decided he knew how to best spend China and Japan’s money, which he borrowed in order to finance his tax cuts for the wealthy and the war in Iraq, driving the federal debt to historic heights.
As the Washington Post noted today, Bush “has presided over the weakest eight-year span for the U.S. economy in decades”; the federal government “had a modest budget surplus when Bush took office,” but his administration ran up deficits “even as the economy was growing at a healthy pace.”
It is worth remembering that when Bush took office, it was projected that the federal government would run a $710 billion budget surplus in 2009, and that the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calculated that Bush’s tax cuts accounted for 42 percent of the fiscal deterioration between 2001 and 2008. If Bush was indeed siding “with the people,” he had an awfully funny way of going about it.