You probably didn't realize it, but June 7, 2011, is a momentous day in US history. It marks the 10-year anniversary of the signing into law of the Bush tax cuts, a day when President George W. Bush helped replace an unprecedented federal budget surplus with a mountain of debt in order to slash taxes for rich people (including dead ones).
Big debt: Between 2001 and 2010, the Bush tax cuts added $2.6 trillion to the public debt, 50 percent of the total debt accrued during that time. Over the past 10 years, the country has spent more than $400 billion just servicing the debt created by the cuts.
Yet when the deficit peacocks began to preen about the deficit, they weren't willing to eliminate those tax cuts, which is in itself the ultimate illustration of the depth of their concern for the deficit. They said these cuts were important, because they CREATE JOBS. Except, as we all know: they don't. They haven't, and they aren't going to.
No jobs: Between 2002 and 2007, employment increased by less than 1 percent when the economy was supposed to be expanding. Employment growth barely kept pace with population growth. Between the end of 2001, when the country was in a recession, and the peak of the real estate bubble, er, economic expansion in 2007, the US economy performed worse than at any time since the end of World War II.
Essentially, the Bush tax cuts made the rich richer, and helped empty our treasury and build the very deficit that we hear so much about. Ending the tax cuts isn't an option. The options all seem to involve cutting existing jobs, social programs, and slashing education spending:
...in 2001, before the tax cuts went into effect, the federal government invested $8,634 in inflation-adjusted dollars for every four-year-old in Head Start, the Great Society-era early childhood program designed to help prepare poor kids to do well in school. In 2011, that investment declined to $7,824 per child. Funding for the Social Services Block Grant, which funds programs that combat child abuse and neglect, among other things, has dropped more than 20 percent in real dollars.
Not only are we leaving the next generation a dismal legacy, we're not doing even a decent job of providing them with the kind of tools they're going to need to fix this mess.
Cross-posted at MainSt/workingamerica.org