The Magazine

Make the Tax Cuts Permanent

From the December 27, 2004 issue: Now.

Dec 27, 2004, Vol. 10, No. 15 • By JEFFREY BELL and STEPHEN MOORE
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Bush's biggest legacy so far on domestic policy is his successful completion of the Reagan supply-side tax-cutting agenda. Locking in this first-term achievement would be a vindication of Bush's pro-growth policies. Indeed, a victory on the tax bill puts Bush in a stronger position to tackle Social Security and tax reform.

Conversely, a failure to cement his tax cuts into place would represent a startling, unexpected and early setback on several levels. Economically, the tax cuts will become less and less of a stimulus as their expiration dates approach. Politically, the president will be seen as having broken a central pledge of his reelection victory over John Kerry. On a more fundamental level, does Bush really want to preside in his second term over the effective repeal of his most impressive first-term domestic achievement?

That the strong-willed and politically astute Bush White House would, whether consciously or absent-mindedly, risk blowing a political and economic victory of such magnitude is, to put it mildly, one of Washington's biggest postelection puzzles. The president should intervene to make sure the very first item of business in the new Congress is an up-or-down vote on making permanent every one of his first-term tax cuts and reforms. Invest political capital here, and it will pay dividends in more legislative wins in the months ahead.

Stephen Moore is president of the Club for Growth and Jeffrey Bell is a principal of Capital City Partners, a Washington consulting firm.