“Tax relief is an achievement for families struggling to enter the middle class,” the president trumpeted, shortly after Congress, by sweeping bipartisan margins and after a bruising battle, had lowered taxes for almost all Americans. “For hard-working lower income families, we have cut the bottom rate of federal income tax from 15 percent to 10 percent. We doubled the per-child tax credit to $1,000 and made it refundable. Tax relief is compassionate, and it is now on the way.”
Despite a furious counterattack from the opposition, the president had scored a major victory by securing lower tax rates for everyone in the middle class on down.
President Barack Obama last week after narrowly averting the fiscal cliff? Nope, President George W. Bush in June 2001, signing the first set of his much-sought-after tax cuts. Perhaps the “compassionate” was a giveaway.
Now that the vast majority of those cuts — to income taxes, and to much of the estate levy and capital gains and dividend rates —have been made permanent, with a bipartisan Washington consensus hardening around the benefits of tax relief, Bush must surely be smiling in Texas — and for good reason.
Republicans have now succumbed to navel-gazing, infighting and worse. But they should instead focus on how their larger principles have prevailed.