Former President George W. Bush says the so-called Bush tax cuts would be more likely to survive if they didn’t carry the burden of his family name.
“I wish they weren’t called the Bush tax cuts,” he said Tuesday morning as he kicked off the “Tax Policies for 4% Growth” conference hosted by the George W. Bush Presidential Center in New York.
“If they’re called some other body’s tax cuts, they’re probably less likely to be raised.”
In a rare public appearance since leaving office, Bush said private-sector growth requires leaving more capital in the hands of job creators, Forbes reported. And he declared: “If you raise taxes, you’re taking money out of the pockets of consumers.”
With private-sector growth, he added, “the pie grows, the debt relative to the pie shrinks, and with fiscal discipline you can solve your deficits.”
Bush’s remarks on taxes came on the same day President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver a speech at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla., calling for higher taxes on wealthy Americans.
"If you raise taxes on these so-called rich, you're really raising taxes on the job creators," Bush said at the conference. "And if the goal is to create private sector growth, you have to recognize that the best way to create that growth is to leave capital in the treasuries of the job creators."
But Bush said he has refrained from criticizing Obama, explaining: “I don’t think it’s good for our country to undermine our president and I don’t intend to do so.”
The Bush tax cuts, which significantly lowered the marginal tax rates for nearly all U.S. taxpayers, are set to expire at the end of 2012 — after being extended in 2010. Many on the right have called for the cuts to be made permanent.
James Glassman, founding director of the George W. Bush Institute, argued that tax policy is “the most powerful” public policy that can motivate citizens to work, invest and start new businesses, according to Forbes, the media sponsor of the event.
Other speakers at the conference include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.
Asked at the conference if he misses the presidency, Bush responded: “I really don’t.” But he added that “it was really inconvenient having to stop at stop lights [on the way to the conference]. I guess I miss that.”
Bush said his institute will release a book this summer proposing what he described as a pro-growth economic and tax policy that will result in 4 percent economic growth. The book includes contributions from 21 economists, including five Nobel Prize winners, according to CNN.
"It's got to be a staggering thing for some of the cynics. I publish a book, and now the Bush Institute is publishing a book. They didn't think I could read, much less write a book," Bush said, sparking laughter in the crowd.
Ahead of the president’s speech in Florida, Obama campaign senior advisor David Axelrod said on MSNBC on Tuesday morning that Obama will not allow another extension of the Bush tax cuts, even though he agreed to a two-year extension in December 2010 over objections from many congressional Democrats.
But “Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough was skeptical.
“Are you really going to let them expire?” he said.
“Absolutely. We have to do that,” Axelrod said.
“Can I say I don’t believe you?” Scarborough responded.
“In Washington, D.C., everybody figures out a way to spend more money, cut more taxes, drive us deeper [into debt]. Nobody makes the tough choices.”
Axelrod continued: “You may not believe it Joe, but the president’s going to win in November and we are not going to extend those tax cuts for the wealthy and I’m looking forward to coming back here in the future and taking a big ‘I told you so.’ ”
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