Voodoo Tax Calculator
George W. Bush's Web site includes a "Bush For President Tax Calculator" that ostensibly lets taxpayers "See How Governor Bush's Tax Plan Helps Working Americans." But the calculator often simply doesn't work.
If you type "single, two kids, making $22,000," for example, you'll be told that your current income tax is $110 and that your tax under Bush would be zero. That's pretty far off, since the actual figures are minus $1,701 now and minus $1,811 under Bush. Perhaps to avoid conflicting with Bush's claim that single mothers are grossly overtaxed today, the Bush calculator leaves out the Earned Income Tax Credit. As a result, the tax information it provides for families making less than $30,000 is usually wrong.
Oddly, the Bush calculator won't allow income entries greater than $100,000--quite an oversight, given that most of Bush's tax cuts are targeted to the 11 million couples and individuals who make more than that amount.
Of course, if Bush's calculator were to be really useful, it would show how much working Americans stand to lose in government services to pay for Bush's gargantuan tax cuts. Needless to say, it doesn't do that.
A phony tax plan?
In March the GOP majority on the House Budget Committee squelched a mischievous Democratic attempt to force a vote on George W. Bush's tax cut plan. A vote would have made Republicans show whether they had the temerity (or the stupidity) to press forward with their presidential candidate's unpopular and economically unsound plan; the Republicans blinked. While Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich, an Ohio Republican, insisted that "I'm not walking away from the Bush tax cut and neither are the Republicans on the committee," it's clear that even the most antigovernment firebrands on the committee blanched at the thought of spelling out the $2 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years that Bush's tax plan would require. So they blocked consideration of the Bush proposal by substituting an innocuous measure recommending less waste in government.
Of course, the budget that the GOP Congress eventually approved anyway is harsh enough on its own. It calls for reducing nondefense appropriations by $138 billion over the next five years and by about $375 billion in cuts over 10 years, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
In light of public sentiment, Congress's proposed cuts--not to mention the even bigger ones Bush's plan would require--are unlikely. But congressional Republicans had to posit big outlay reductions in their budget to help offset the cost of the $800 billion in tax cuts over 10 years that they also hope to pass this session. Later in the year, when most of the tax cuts have been vetoed, Congress and the president will probably work out a less draconian spending plan.
Washington Congressman Jim McDermott, chief engineer of the Democrats' ploy to force the Republicans' hand on their presidential candidate's tax proposal, said that Republicans' refusal to vote on the Bush plan proved it was "phony." Kasich, for his part, insisted ominously that "it's going to take a Republican president to get the rest of the way."
--Robert S. McIntyre