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Who is shining us on about Bush tax cuts?
The screw-the-middle-class impacts of the presumptive GOP nominee's tax plans have been getting plenty of negative attention Wednesday, here, from the president and various bloggy and social media alcoves of the internet. For those of us outside the golden circle, what Mitt Romney has planned amounts to just more of the same old, same old that has been driving income and wealth inequality for the past three-plus decades. It's made crystal clear by a study from the Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.

But in addition to the deconstruction of Romney's income tax plans, the center's data provided grist for another study this week by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. What it shows in detail, no surprise to anybody who has been paying even cursory attention, is that Bush tax cuts have provided immense benefits to the highest-income households over the past nine years. And a lot of damage to the federal budget and to the populace as a whole as the tax system became much less progressive.

Among the details as evaluated by Chye-Ching Huang and Nate Frentz at the CBPP (all dollars inflation-adjusted to 2012):

• Higher income people didn't just get a better deal in absolute dollars; that was to be expected. Proportionately they did better as well. "For example, in 2010, the year in which all of the Bush income and estate tax cuts were fully phased in, they increased the after-tax income of people making over $1 million by more than 7.3 percent, but increased the after-tax income of the middle 20 percent of households by just 2.8 percent."

• The average annual tax cut of people making over $1 million during the period 2004-2012 was $110,000, more than twice the median household income.

• The cuts raised the average after-tax income of the top 1 percent of households by 6.7 percent (or $66,618), of the top 20 percent of households by 4.6 percent (or $7,860), of the middle 20 percent by 2.8 percent (or $1,039), and of the bottom 20 percent by just 1.0 percent (or $99).

These skewed cuts were introduced at time, in 2001, when Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, was saying that government surpluses would lead to the United States paying down its debt too fast, a supposed danger that should be met by cutting taxes. How did that work out? The surpluses are long gone and, the authors explain:

Americans across the country may be forced to sacrifice in various ways, from paying more for college to facing higher-out-of-pocket health costs, with potential consequences for some Americans with modest incomes in terms of access to higher education and to health care services. Needed investments to infrastructure are likely to be shorted, as well. Basic health and scientific research may be squeezed.
It's not may be. All of this is happening right now.

Mitt Romney and other Republicans' prescription for dealing with the problems caused, at least in part, by these previous cuts? Why, more of the same, of course.

Some Democrats will no doubt argue that we should meet the Republicans halfway on new cuts for the wealthy. That is exactly the wrong approach, the approach that has been going on since Ronald Reagan was the front man for the oligarchs. Time to stop giving breaks to the upper tier based on the repeatedly disproven theory that this will trickle down.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 04:03 PM PDT.

Also republished by Income Inequality Kos and Daily Kos.

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