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The Bush Tax Cuts Turn 10; Let's Look At the Damage They've Caused

In June 2001, George W. Bush pushed through an ideologically driven tax-cut package, mostly for the rich, that is still hurting our economy.

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As the continued suffering of these workers makes clear, the passage and then extension of the tax cuts helped create a "new normal," with economic policy tilted further toward redistributing income from the bottom to the top. This tilt continues as the budget deficit, generated in part by the cuts, is now being used as an excuse to allow unemployment to remain high and thus depress wages. Workers desperate for jobs can't afford to be picky about wages and benefits, and thus the income gap continues to widen.

The tax cuts were an ideological program from an ideologically driven president, sold first as a way to give back some of the Clinton-era surpluses to hard-working taxpayers and then as a fiscal stimulus desperately needed after the bursting of the dot-com bubble and then the post-9/11 recession. Just like the Bush wars, the motivation shifted depending on events but the underlying policy was driven by what the administration wanted to do. It certainly has nothing to do with the success of either wars or tax cuts.

Rolling back the tax cuts would not only be a substantial step toward making the deficit manageable, it would be a strong message to the vast majority of American workers that this administration actually cares about them more than it cares about Wall Street. A Democrat president looking to get reelected with 9 percent unemployment would be wise to consider that.

Sarah Jaffe is a contributor to AlterNet and a freelance writer.