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10 Republican Lies About the Bush Tax Cuts

So it’s come down to this. On Saturday, David Stockman, the legendary Reagan budget chief who presided over the Gipper’s supply-side tax cuts, announced that the “debt explosion has resulted not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party’s embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don’t matter if they result from tax cuts.” The next day, the former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, who famously helped sell the 2001 Bush tax cuts to Congress, declared them simply “disastrous.”

Sadly, Stockman and Greenspan are just about the only voices in the Republican Party speaking the truth about the fiscal devastation wrought by the expiring Bush tax cuts. After all, the national debt tripled under Ronald Reagan, only to double again during the tenure of George W. Bush. And as it turns out, the Bush tax cut windfall for the wealthy accounted for almost half the budget deficits during his presidency and, if made permanent, would contribute more to the U.S. budget deficit than the Obama stimulus, the TARP program, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and revenue lost to the recession - combined. Of course, you’d never know it listening to the leaders of GOP.

And that’s just the beginning. Here, then, are 10 Republican Lies about the Bush tax cuts:

For the details, data and charts for each, continue reading after the break.

Lie #1: Democrats Plan Across the Board Tax Hikes on January 1st

On July 19, Michigan Republican Dave Camp sent out an email blast warning of the “Democrats’ ticking tax time bomb” claiming “Americans to pay higher taxes starting January 1, 2011.” On July 20, Rep. Mike Pence(R-IN) declared, “Should Democrats get their way, every income tax bracket will increase on Jan. 1, 2011. Every single one.”

It’s no wonder Politifact deemed the charge “False.” As the fact checking site put it:

“For many months, Democratic officials have consistently said that they intend to let only the tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals lapse. The cutoff they usually suggest is $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly. President Obama campaigned on just such a plan.”

Which is exactly right. During the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama pledged to roll back the Bush tax cuts for couples earning over $250,000 a year while delivering tax relief for 95% of working households. President Obama has already delivered on the second promise. (Ironically, and despite the Tea Party’s rage, total federal, state and local taxes hit their lowest level since 1950.) Last week, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithnerconfirmed Obama’s intent to make good the first:

“We believe it is appropriate to let those tax cuts that go to the most fortunate expire.”

The shrill voices of the GOP aren’t merely lying on this point. The expiring Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, were after all, passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Republican President. As Ezra Kleinrecently put it, “Republicans now blaming Democrats for Bush tax cuts.”

Lie #2: Democrats Want a $3.8 Trillion Tax Increase

If nothing else, Republicans like Sarah Palin deserve a hand for having the chutzpah to pretend Democrats want a $3.8 trillion tax increase over the next decade.

On Sunday, Palin literally wrote that talking point on her hand in an appearance with Chris Wallace of Fox News:

“My palm isn’t large enough to have written all my notes down on what this tax increase, what it will result in…. Democrats are poised to cause the largest tax increase in U.S. history, it’s a tax increase of $3.8 trillion in the next ten years and it will have an effect on every single American who pays an income tax.”

Of course, this second Republican fraud is merely the flip-side of the first. Restoring upper bracket tax rates to their Clinton-era levels will impact only a sliver of American taxpayers. As ThinkProgress noted:

For one thing, according to the Pew Economic Policy Group, an extension of all of the Bush tax cuts will cost $3.1 trillion over ten years, once the costs of servicing the debt are factored in. But no one has proposed allowing them all expire, and it’s incredibly disingenuous of Republicans to claim otherwise, especially since it was a budget gimmick by former President George W. Bush to include the ten-year sunset at all.

Extending just the cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans will cost $830 billion over ten years.

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