Luntz Watch: Tax Cut Credibility Crumbles

[Influential conservative strategist Frank Luntz has produced a 160-page playbook to advance the right-wing agenda. Think Progress cuts through the spin and gives you the tools you need to fight back. Check here for updates throughout the week.]

President Bush likes to credit his massive tax cuts for the mega-rich for turning around the economy. According to Luntz, it’s time to cut it out. In his playbook, he writes, “Don’t assert that the tax cuts caused the economic recovery…we have never found a Republican who has effectively made the case for strong economic growth as a result of the tax cut. It has been tried and tried and tried and it just doesn’t sound credible.”

There’s a reason it doesn’t sound credible, Mr. Luntz: The tax cuts didn’t cause the economic recovery.

As a matter of fact, the 8/12/04 New York Times pointed out, for every dollar spent on Bush’s tax cuts, the economy only received about 59 cents of economic stimulus. That means higher deficits without much bang for the buck. In contrast, “the economic bang for a dollar of aid to state governments is $1.24. Yet such assistance accounted for only 3 percent of the total cost of Mr. Bush’s fiscal policies.”

Frank Luntz, recognizing this, is advising conservatives that “instead of linking the current economic situation with tax cuts, you would be better off linking tax increases to future economic hardship.” In plain language — since there’s no way to say these tax cuts for the rich have done anything to help average Americans, a better strategy is to scare the pants off the public about the dire (but vague) consequences of rolling these expensive tax cuts back.