The Democrats have been so busy defending federal spending, and denigrating the stimulative power of tax cuts, that they apparently either forgot to — or felt they couldn’t — point out something rather dramatic: the tax cuts in this stimulus plan appear to be the biggest in history.
The compromise stimulus plan includes $282 billion in tax cuts over two years.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Bush’s first two years of tax cuts amounted to $174 billion. A second batch in 2004 and 2005 cost $231. And those were thought to be bigger than the tax cuts offered by Reagan, Kennedy or others.
Now, perhaps some new analysis will show that the tax cuts end up not quite being the largest in history by this measure or that. But it’s clear they’re massive.
I’m ducking the debate on whether this is economically good or bad — but surely it ought to be a big story.
It leads to two further points. The fight got boiled down to: Democrats want spending. Republican want tax cuts. This is partly the media’s fault for following the script layed out by the Congressional leaders, but it also represents a lost opportunity by Obama. In his press conference, he mostly made the case for spending. He didn’t make the case for the massive size of his tax cuts.
Second, Obama kept a campaign promise that few Republican thought he’d keep. If this weren’t part of a larger package, that would be an enormous story. A liberal Democrat in the campaign promised the biggest tax cut in history. Republicans said it was a complete charade (and many liberals didn’t much like it anyway). And the Democrat in his first few weeks delivers the tax cut.
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About Steve Waldman
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