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This week marks the ten-year birthday of the Bush tax cuts.Ten years ago we had a giant surplus, nobody talking about raising debt ceilings. And those tax cuts were going to create jobs, grow the economy. One problem. None of that happened. Annie Lowery of Slate explains.

The Bush tax cuts were followed by low GDP growth, negative median wage growth, and little job growth. Even before the Great Recession, growth in the Bush business cycle was the weakest since World War II. And the cuts cost about $2.6 trillion between 2001 and 2010, accordingto the Economic Policy Institute—adding to a debt future generations of taxpayers will pay for, plus interest.

By Bush’s own metrics, then, the tax cuts were a failure. But perhaps that is because Bush chose such absurd metrics and made such silly promises about tax cuts’ economic omnipotence in the first place. To state the obvious, tax cuts are not magic. They can help a strong economy get stronger or help a weak economy pick up some steam. They also have a direct impact on the government budget. But they cannot goose employers into adding millions of jobs, pay for themselves, and arrest the growth of government, all while delivering everyone cupcakes. So perhaps the best we can say about the Bush tax cuts is that they did exactly what we should have expected them to do.

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