Given the spectacular nature of his economic failures, former President George W. Bush should probably avoid lectures on what policymakers should do when cleaning up his mess. But the man with the limitless chutzpah still likes to think he has some credibility on the subject.
Forbes magazine posted this clip of Bush speaking in New York City this morning at the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s conference on “Tax Policies For 4% Growth.”
And how, pray tell, does Bush believe tax policy can lead to 4% GDP growth in the private sector? How else? By giving wealthy people more tax cuts. Indeed, the former president argued, “[I]f you raise taxes on the so-called rich, you’re really raising taxes on the job creators.”
It’s tempting to go through Bush’s remarks, detailing all of his errors of fact and judgment. I’m inclined to explain to the former president that millionaires and billionaires aren’t “the so-called rich”; they’re the actual rich. It’s also tempting to note than when Bush says, “If you raise taxes, you’re taking money out of the pockets of consumers,” the same underlying policy argument applies to food stamps and unemployment benefits. And while we’re at it, it might also be fun to explain that tax increases wouldn’t be quite so necessary had Bush not blown a record-high budget surplus, added $5 trillion to the debt, and left President Obama with a $1.3 trillion deficit.
But you know what? Let’s put that aside for a moment and consider a larger point: Bush has been so severely discredited, listening to him give economic advice is like getting tips from Mitt Romney on policy consistency.
Bush had his shot for two terms. He got the massive tax breaks he wanted; he got the spending levels he wanted; he got the regulatory framework he wanted. We tried it his way for nearly a decade and the result was an unmitigated disaster for the ages. As has been well documented, we’ll be dealing with the consequences of his astonishing failures for many, many years to come.
And now he wants to lecture us on tax and economic policy? Is he serious?
Don’t go away mad, Mr. Bush. Just go away.