Jeb! is out with a brand new tax policy that is pretty much the same as his brother’s.
Bush’s plan, unveiled in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, would replicate his brother’s program in extremis. Like Dubya, Jeb would reduce income taxes at the bottom of the earning scale. Dubya reduced the estate tax; Jeb would eliminate it entirely. Dubya cut the top tax rate to 35 percent, while Jeb would lower it all the way to 28 percent. Unlike his brother, he would also slash corporate tax rates, from 28 percent to 20 percent.
George W. put a number on the size of his tax cut. He proposed a tax cut of $1.6 trillion over a decade, which Congress ultimately reduced to $1.35 trillion, though subsequent tax cuts pushed the size higher. It is impossible to precisely measure the impact of the Bush tax cuts on either the budget or the economy, since nobody can know what would have happened under identical conditions if the tax cuts had never been enacted.
But the results certainly were not good. Economist William Gale, using mainstream forecasting assumptions, estimated that the Bush tax cuts slightly reduced economic growth, as the (small) negative effects of higher long-term deficits outweighed the (even smaller) positive incentive effects of lower rates. The biggest impact of the Bush tax cuts was not its meager, indirect effects on growth, but its large, direct effects on income and the federal budget: Revenue cratered, and taxpayers — disproportionately those with higher incomes — had way more money.
Because it worked so well the last time, right?