Are the Bush tax cuts to blame for Obama’s 1.6 trillion dollar deficits?

Obama Budget Deficit 2011
Obama Budget Deficit 2011

From the Wall Street Journal, the raw numbers on the Bush tax cuts and the deficit. (H/T Paul Ryan)


But what about the liberal claim, repeated constantly, that the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 caused today’s deficits? CBO has shown this to be demonstrably false. On May 12, the budget arm of Congress examined the changes in its baseline projections from 2001 through 2011. In 2001, it had predicted a surplus in 2011 of $889 billion. Instead, it expects a deficit of $1.4 trillion.

What explains that $2.29 trillion budget reversal? Well, the direct revenue loss from the combination of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts contributed roughly $216 billion, or only about 9.5% of the $2.29 trillion. And keep in mind that even this low figure is based on a static revenue model that assumes almost no gains from faster economic growth.

After the Bush investment tax cuts of 2003, tax revenues were $786 billion higher in 2007 ($2.568 trillion) than they were in 2003 ($1.782 trillion), the biggest four-year increase in U.S. history. So as flawed as it is, the current tax code with a top personal income tax rate of 35% is clearly capable of generating big revenue gains.

CBO’s data show that by far the biggest change in its deficit forecast is the spending bonanza, with outlays in 2011 that are $1.135 trillion higher than the budget office estimated a decade ago. One-third of that is higher interest payments on the national debt, notwithstanding record low interest rates. But $523 billion is due to domestic spending increases, including defense, education, Medicaid and the Obama stimulus. Mr. Bush’s Medicare drug plan accounts for $53 billion of this unanticipated spending in 2011.

The last GOP budget was in 2007, and the deficit was $160 billion, ONE TENTH of Obama’s budget deficit. And that was WITH the tax cuts. The cause of the current trillion dollar deficits is Barack Obama’s spending.

Remember what the unemployment rate was under Bush:

Comparison of unemployment rates - Bush vs Obama
Comparison of unemployment rates - Bush vs Obama

I think that looking at the budget deficit numbers and the unemployment numbers is a good way to judge how capable a President is. It gets away from the media spin, the gaffes, the jokes on those liberal Comedy Channel shows. Just look at the numbers, because we all have to care about jobs and spending. Politics is about our freedom, prosperity and security. Not about making us laugh or feel superior to others.

2 thoughts on “Are the Bush tax cuts to blame for Obama’s 1.6 trillion dollar deficits?”

  1. What was the trend? i.e. Was unemployment 5.21% or close to it for all of the Clinton years and was unemployment hovering at 5.27% for all of the Bush years? My recollection is that when Obama came into office the economy was in a deep recession, if the tax cuts were so great for the economy then why was this the case and why was the recent extension of the tax cuts not another boom to the economy? Perhaps unfunded wars and medicare part D also contributed


    1. The unemployment rate for Bush was between 4 and 5 percent until the Democrats took over the House and Senate in 2007. By that point, the spending started and the economy started to die. Bush’s last deficit was 160 billion in 2007.


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