What happened to the surplus?
“I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us.” — Sen. John McCain, 2001Ruth Marcus: The shifting line on tax cuts
By Ruth Marcus, WashPost, Published: December 4
Memories are short, which is lucky for politicians. Consider the current debate over letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire, and the largely forgotten rationale for cutting taxes in the first place.
Hint: It wasn’t because rates were too high. It was because the surplus was too big.
Yes, too big.
President George W. Bush laid out this reasoning in his first address to Congress, in February 2001. “Many of you have talked about the need to pay down our national debt. I listened, and I agree,” he said, vowing to eliminate $2 trillion in debt over the next decade.
Likewise, he said, the nation, like “any prudent family,” should have a “contingency fund” for emergencies. And so, Bush assured the nation, he would set aside another sum, nearly $1 trillion over 10 years.