What’s the Deal with These Bush Tax Cuts Expiring?

Good question, you say? If you mosey around the web for a nanosecond, you’re likely to run into an article that is debating whether or not the 43rd President’s tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 should be continued. Since Nancy Pelosi is determined to get a vote on this pre-election day, the political rhetoric on this issue is flowing like a river of sewage you dare not dream of.

To help you make sense of it all, we perused some of the tax wonkiest corners of the web to bring you some perspective. And of course, some less bright observations.


The Tax Foundation has a breakdown of how the expiration of the tax cuts would affect “Average Middle-Income Family, by State and Congressional District.” It’s simple to find your state/district to see the effect that the expiration of the cuts would have on you.

• Over at the Journal, Washington Wire presents the biggest winners and losers from the tax cuts being extended:

Among the states that would save the most from extending the tax cuts, according to a draft of the study: Alaska ($1,959 per family); Connecticut ($1,903); Maryland ($1,756); Massachusetts ($1,831); New Jersey ($1,860) and Utah ($1,779). The lowest savings for middle-income families would be in D.C. ($1,237); West Virginia ($1,316); and Mississippi ($1,355).

• Apparently Alan Greenspan still has a shred of credibility left because he weighed in a couple of weeks ago, telling Bloomberg, “I should say they should follow the law and let them lapse.”

• The Beard doesn’t agree with his predecessor, telling the House Financial Services Committee, “In the short term I would believe that we ought to maintain a reasonable degree of fiscal support, stimulus for the economy. There are many ways to do that. This is one way.”

• William G. Gale, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, wrote in the Washington Post about five myths around the tax cuts, including their affect on small businesses:

One of the most common objections to letting the cuts expire for those in the highest tax brackets is that it would hurt small businesses. As Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) recently put it, allowing the cuts to lapse would amount to “a job-killing tax hike on small business during tough economic times.”

This claim is misleading. If, as proposed, the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire for the highest earners, the vast majority of small businesses will be unaffected. Less than 2 percent of tax returns reporting small-business income are filed by taxpayers in the top two income brackets — individuals earning more than about $170,000 a year and families earning more than about $210,000 a year.

Derek Thompson is a little more pragmatic than most, arguing that President Obama should extend them for a year in order to buy some time to work on comprehensive tax reform:

The president should extend the Bush tax cuts — yes, the whole dang thing — for a year to temporarily silence his critics. Then he should use 2011 to knock it down and build a tax system that’s right for the next decade. Working off a bipartisan plan, real tax reform would simplify the income brackets and eliminate the multitude of deductions and exemptions that distort the economy with bad incentives and leave hundreds of billions of dollars on the ground.

• Fred Thompson (no relation that we know of) is using his camera moxie to voice his support for the extension of the cuts:

• Ezra Klein agrees that some cuts will be extended temporarily, although the debate among citizens isn’t as clear:

The cuts for the rich are likely to be extended for at least two years. The cuts for the middle class are sure to be extended for even longer than that. Total cost to the deficit over the next 10 years? More than $3 trillion, and maybe more than $4 trillion.

But according to a Pew poll, the American public isn’t as sure about this as the politicians are. A slight plurality — 31 percent — want all the tax cuts repealed. Thirty percent want the cuts for the rich extended. In other words, opinion is divided.

• And even though she needed crib notes, Sarah Palin managed to tell Fox News’ Chris Wallace that letting the cuts expire ‘idiotic’:

“[Obama’s] commitment to let previous tax cuts expire are going to lead to even fewer job opportunities for Americans,” Palin said. “It’s idiotic to think about increasing taxes at a time like this.”

“My palm isn’t large enough to have written all my notes down on what this tax increase, what it will result in,” Palin continued.

Host Chris Wallace noticed that Palin did indeed have something written on her palm. “Can I ask you, what do you have written on your hand?” he asked.

“$3.8 trillion in the next 10 years,” Palin responded, “so I didn’t say $3.7 trillion and then get dinged by the liberals saying I didn’t know what I was talking about.”

But who would ever get the idea that Sarah Palin didn’t know what she was talking about?

Good question, you say? If you mosey around the web for a nanosecond, you’re likely to run into an article that is debating whether or not the 43rd President’s tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 should be continued. Since Nancy Pelosi is determined to get a vote on this pre-election day, the political rhetoric on this issue is flowing like a river of sewage the likes of which, you dare not dream of.

To help you make sense of it all, we perused some of the tax wonkiest corners of the web to bring you some perspective. And of course, some less bright observations.


The Tax Foundation has a breakdown of how the expiration of the tax cuts would affect “Average Middle-Income Family, by State and Congressional District.” It’s simple to find your state/district to see the effect that the expiration of the cuts would have on you.

• Over at the Journal, Washington Wire presents the biggest winners and losers from the tax cuts being extended:

Among the states that would save the most from extending the tax cuts, according to a draft of the study: Alaska ($1,959 per family); Connecticut ($1,903); Maryland ($1,756); Massachusetts ($1,831); New Jersey ($1,860) and Utah ($1,779). The lowest savings for middle-income families would be in D.C. ($1,237); West Virginia ($1,316); and Mississippi ($1,355).

• Apparently Alan Greenspan still has a shred of credibility left because he weighed in a couple of weeks ago, telling Bloomberg, “I should say they should follow the law and let them lapse.”

• The Beard doesn’t agree with his predecessor, telling the House Financial Services Committee, “In the short term I would believe that we ought to maintain a reasonable degree of fiscal support, stimulus for the economy. There are many ways to do that. This is one way.”

• William G. Gale, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, wrote in the Washington Post about five myths around the tax cuts, including their affect on small businesses:

One of the most common objections to letting the cuts expire for those in the highest tax brackets is that it would hurt small businesses. As Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) recently put it, allowing the cuts to lapse would amount to “a job-killing tax hike on small business during tough economic times.”

This claim is misleading. If, as proposed, the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire for the highest earners, the vast majority of small businesses will be unaffected. Less than 2 percent of tax returns reporting small-business income are filed by taxpayers in the top two income brackets — individuals earning more than about $170,000 a year and families earning more than about $210,000 a year.

Derek Thompson is a little more pragmatic than most, arguing that President Obama should extend them for a year in order to buy some time to work on comprehensive tax reform:

The president should extend the Bush tax cuts — yes, the whole dang thing — for a year to temporarily silence his critics. Then he should use 2011 to knock it down and build a tax system that’s right for the next decade. Working off a bipartisan plan, real tax reform would simplify the income brackets and eliminate the multitude of deductions and exemptions that distort the economy with bad incentives and leave hundreds of billions of dollars on the ground.

• Fred Thompson (no relation that we know of) is using his camera moxie to voice his support for the extension of the cuts:

• Ezra Klein agrees that some cuts will be extended temporarily, although the debate among citizens isn’t as clear:

The cuts for the rich are likely to be extended for at least two years. The cuts for the middle class are sure to be extended for even longer than that. Total cost to the deficit over the next 10 years? More than $3 trillion, and maybe more than $4 trillion.

But according to a Pew poll, the American public isn’t as sure about this as the politicians are. A slight plurality — 31 percent — want all the tax cuts repealed. Thirty percent want the cuts for the rich extended. In other words, opinion is divided.

• And even though she needed crib notes, Sarah Palin managed to tell Fox News’ Chris Wallace that letting the cuts expire ‘idiotic’:

“[Obama’s] commitment to let previous tax cuts expire are going to lead to even fewer job opportunities for Americans,” Palin said. “It’s idiotic to think about increasing taxes at a time like this.”

“My palm isn’t large enough to have written all my notes down on what this tax increase, what it will result in,” Palin continued.

Host Chris Wallace noticed that Palin did indeed have something written on her palm. “Can I ask you, what do you have written on your hand?” he asked.

“$3.8 trillion in the next 10 years,” Palin responded, “so I didn’t say $3.7 trillion and then get dinged by the liberals saying I didn’t know what I was talking about.”

But who would ever get the idea that Sarah Palin didn’t know what she was talking about?

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