The establishment fervently believes that more money should come to Washington so that politicians have greater ability to buy votes.
That’s why statists from both parties are so viscerally hostile to Grover Norquist’s no-tax-hike pledge. They view it as an obstacle to bigger government.
And it also explains why politicians who raise taxes are showered with praise, especially when they are Republicans who break their promises and betray taxpayers.
Which is why President George H.W. Bush was just awarded a “profiles in courage” award for raising taxes and breaking his read-my-lips promise by the crowd at Harvard’s Kennedy School.
Here’s some of what was reported by the Dallas News.
Former President George H.W. Bush was honored Sunday with a Kennedy “courage” award for agreeing to raise taxes to confront a spiraling deficit, jeopardizing his presidency that ended after just one term. …The budget deal enacted “responsible and desperately needed reforms” at the expense of Bush’s popularity and his chances for re-election, Schlossberg said. “America’s gain was President Bush’s loss, and his decision to put country above party and political prospects makes him an example of a modern profile in courage that is all too rare,” he said.
I’m not surprised, by the way, that Mr. Schlossberg praised Bush for selling out taxpayers.
But I am disappointed that the Dallas News reporter demonstrated either incompetency or bias by saying that Bush raised taxes to “confront a spiraling deficit.”
If you look at the Congressional Budget Office forecast from early 1990, you’ll see that deficits were on a downward path.
In other words, Bush had the good fortune of inheriting a reasonably strong fiscal situation from President Reagan.
Spending was growing slower than the private economy, thanks in part to the Gramm-Rudman law that indirectly limited the growth of spending.
So Bush 41 simply had to maintain Reagan’s policies to achieve success.
But instead he raised taxes. That got him an award from the Kennedy School this year…and it resulted in bigger government in the early 1990s.
Writing for National Review, Deroy Murdock is justly irked that President George H.W. Bush was given an award for doing the wrong thing.
…former president George Herbert Walker Bush received the Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. What intrepid achievement merited this emolument? Believe it or not, breaking his word to the American people and hiking taxes by $137 billion in 1990. …Bush’s tax hike was a political betrayal for Republicans and other voters who believed him when he pledged to the 1988 GOP National Convention: “Read my lips: No new taxes.” …Bush violated his promise and hiked the top tax rate from 28 percent to 31. Bush also imposed a luxury tax on yachts and other items. This led to a plunge in domestic boat sales and huge job losses among carpenters, painters, and others in the yacht-manufacturing industry.
The worst result, though, was that the tax hike enabled and facilitated more government spending.
Here are the numbers I calculated a couple of years ago. If you look at total spending (other than net interest and bailouts), you see that Bush 41 allowed inflation-adjusted spending to grow more than twice as fast as it did under Reagan.
And if you remove defense spending from the equation, you see that Bush 41’s bad record was largely the result of huge and counterproductive increases in domestic spending.
With such a bad performance, you won’t be surprised to learn that market-oriented fiscal experts do not remember the Bush years fondly.
Deroy cites some examples, including a quote from yours truly.
“Bush’s tax hike repealed the real spending restraint of Gramm-Rudman and imposed a big tax hike that facilitated a larger burden of government spending,” says Cato Institute scholar Dan Mitchell. “No wonder the statists . . . are applauding.” …“Of course the Left wants to celebrate Bush’s broken tax promise,” Moore says. ”It is what cost Republicans the White House and elected Bill Clinton…” says Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “This is an award for stupidly throwing away the presidency to the Democrats…” Norquist further laments: “You never see a Democrat get a ‘courage’ award for saying ‘No’ to the spending-interest lobby.”
The moral of the story is that Washington tax-hike deals are always a mechanism for bigger government.
And President George H.W. Bush should be remembered for being a President who made Washington happy by making America less prosperous. As I wrote last year, “He increased spending, raised tax rates, and imposed costly new regulations.”
Hmmm…an establishment Republican President who increased the burden of government. If that sounds familiar, just remember the old saying, “Like father, like son.”