Jorgenson on Bush

I wanted to highlight something important from David Leonhardt’s column this morning that I haven’t seen any comment about. From the column:

“When I asked Dale Jorgenson, the eminent expert on productivity (and a Republican), what had been the positive aspects of President George W. Bush’s economic policy, Mr. Jorgenson said, ‘I don’t see any redeeming features, unfortunately.'”

The reason I call attention to this is that there are still a great many conservatives and Republicans who think the tax cuts enacted by George W. Bush were the epitome of supply-side economics. In my Impostor book I devoted a whole chapter to explaining why they had only the most superficial resemblance to a true supply side policy. Among the reasons:

1. None of the tax cuts were ever enacted permanently and most will expire next year. It was always a key tenet of supply-side economics that only permanent tax cuts affected incentives; temporary tax cuts never did.

2. The marginal rate reductions were small and phased-in over several years. Recent research shows that this is very detrimental, economically. For example: The timing of fiscal interventions: Don’t do tomorrow what you can do today.

3. The vast bulk of Bush’s tax cuts in dollar terms were tax rebates and tax credits with no supply-side effect whatsoever.

Therefore, it is not surprising that there is no evidence of a supply-side economic effect anywhere in the data of the last few years. Jorgenson is right; the Bush tax cuts were a bust. Right wingers should stop defending them.

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About Bruce Bartlett 76 Articles

Affiliation: Forbes

Bruce Bartlett is a columnist for, the online side of Forbes, the nation’s premier financial magazine.

He served for many years in prominent governmental positions including executive director of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, Deputy Assistant Secretary for economic policy at the U.S. Treasury Department during the George H.W. Bush Administration, and as a senior policy analyst in the White House for Ronald Reagan.

Bruce is the author of seven books, including the New York Times best-selling Impostor: How George W. Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy, and thousands of articles in national publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, New Republic, Fortune and many others. He appears frequently on CNN, CNBC, C-SPAN and Fox News, and has been a guest on both the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report.

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